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Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (LOW), eBay Inc (EBAY): Four of the Best Stocks I Bought Last Year

Amid analyzing numerous industries and their constituents, I’ve been managing my own stock portfolio, as seen in my profile. Looking back should bring forth the factors that supported price gains in certain holdings, and assist the evaluation of equities going forward. These four, in particular, ought to serve as models for exceeding the market average.

Lowe’s Cos. (NYSE:LOW)

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp (NYSE:WAB)

Back in April of last year, shares of Westinghouse Air Brake (Wabtech) were added to our (my wife’s and my) portfolio. Their price has since jumped a solid 32%, versus the Dow’s 12% increase.

The provider of equipment and services to the rail industry’s net profit advanced an impressive 47% in 2012 behind heightened demand, benefits of acquisitions and margin expansion. In fact, sales grew only 22% in the year and operating costs were contained. Further profit growth is likely this year, given the greater order backlog, though a slower pace of improvements seems on tap. Demand in the larger freight division hasn’t been as robust as in the smaller, narrower-margined transit unit.

Wabtech shares rose in tandem with the broader transport sector. Its investments in research and engineering, as well as acquisitions that enhance its scale and scope, ought to remain positive catalysts.

Ingles Markets

After posting a late-November blog on food companies, I became interested several supermarket operators. That led to my mid-December purchase of Ingles, a North Carolina-based chain with more than 200 locations across a number of southern states. The shares have already provided a 22% price jump and offer an annual yield of about 3%. In that time, the Dow has climbed about 10%.

The sale of several units by SUPERVALU has drawn attention to this sector. But, productivity and efficiency improvements have assisted results at this company, specifically. Traditionally seen as a defensive industry, some supermarket stocks have gained ground of late, another being The Kroger Co., a stock that is up 35% over the past year.

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW)

I bought Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) in mid-June of last year, hoping for a persistent housing upturn, and the shares have since advanced 33% (they also offer a dividend yield of 1.7%), as compared with the Dow’s 13% gain. Certainly, recent data shows that sales of existing homes, as well as new housing starts and construction permits, are all bouncing back strongly. Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW)’ earnings and low shares have followed suit.

The home improvement chain, catering to do-it-yourselfers, is generating comparable store sales growth in key categories, and margin expansion. It’s using cash for accretive share repurchases. Thus, the outlook remains positive at this juncture.

eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY)

eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) shares were purchased on July 11, 2012 and have since risen 37% vs. 15% for the Dow. The enticement was the e-commerce giant’s PayPal payment technology that’s supporting profit-growth substantially. It’s been rumored that the company is considering a spinoff of the PayPal business. In fact, I highlighted several such independent companies in a previous posting. The stock sold off moderately earlier this year, inhibiting an even greater gain.

In closing, these are just four of the stocks from our personal portfolio that have performed very well since purchase. It was inspired by a recent headlining article on The Motley Fool entitled “16 Analysts Reveal Their Top Two Stocks.” Thank you for your time.

The article Four of the Best Stocks I Bought Last Year originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Damon Churchwell.

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