Make Money in “Strong Buy” Stocks the Easy Way: Valero Energy Corporation (VLO), Regions Financial Corporation (RF), Micron Technology, Inc. (MU)

More than a handful of companies  that have sported a “strong buy” rating recently have performed well over the past year. Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO) surged 63%, for example, profiting by processing cheap U.S. oil and then selling it at higher prices in Latin America and Europe — thereby helping keep fuel prices in the U.S. high. It stands to benefit from the proposed and controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, and has been investing in railcars to boost profits from the Bakken shale fields.

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) gained 42% and is attractive on many counts, having repaid its TARP obligation, posted improving net interest margin and asset quality, and had a powerful presence in the growing Southeast region. Its recent quarter featured a swing from a big loss to a big gain, among other achievements. My colleague Sean Williams has nominated the company’s leader for CEO of the year.

Swift Transportation Co (NYSE:SWFT) , a trucking company, climbed 22%. Its fourth-quarter earnings surged 27% over year-ago levels as the trucking industry enjoys a resurgence, with January tonnage having been the highest in five years. Its Moody’s credit rating has been hiked recently, and analysts at upped its rating from sell to hold.

Other companies didn’t do quite as well last year, but could see their fortunes change in the coming years. Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) , for example, advanced 10%, as its believers expect that growth in tablets and smartphones, not to mention laptop sales, will drive demand for memory chips. Some see the company posting strong results soon, due to surging DRAM prices. But analysts at Lazard recently downgraded Micron, expecting DRAM prices to level off. Micron’s purchase of Japanese manufacturer Elpida seems promising, boosting its capacity and its relationship with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).

The big picture
A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies — and make investing in and profiting from it that much easier.

The article Make Money in “Strong Buy” Stocks the Easy Way originally appeared on and is written by Selena Maranjian.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.