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StreetAuthority's Most Popular Stock Picks of 2012

By: StreetAuthority
Posted: 1/9/2013 9:30:00 AM
Referenced Stocks: DLPH;DO;MCF;SLV;URI

The past year was a profitable one for most investors: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose nearly 10%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose around 15% each. Toss in dividends, and total returns were a few percentage points higher.

Of course, the goal ofinvesting -- especially for active investors like the folks who read Street Authority -- is to beat these benchmarks.

How did we fare? Well, here's a look at the 10 most popular picks of 2012 and a look at how they fared.

1. " Forget Oil...This Could be the Biggest Story in Energy"
Nathan Slaughterspot price for natural gas surged from just above $2 per thousand cubic feet ( MCF ) to above $3.80 in November, before a modest 20% retrenchment.

Nathan's timing was solid and he continues to deliver ongoing coverage of what he calls the "North American Energy Boom" in hisprofit .

2. " The Man Who Made $15 Billion from the Housing Bubble Just Bought These 5Stocks "
James Brumley's focus on investing guru James Paulson
was also quite popular with readers. Of the five stocks profiled, three were subsequently acquired by other companies -- at solid premiums -- while United Rentals ( URI ) and Delphi Automotive (Nasdaq: DLPH) have each risen roughly 20% since the article was published. As a group, this basket of stocks has returned more than 25% so far.

3. " This Company Could Kill the Gasoline Engine -- and Make Huge Profits for Investors"
Andy Obermueller has been following  Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT), shares had slumped nearly 40% in just two months. Shares subsequently rallied anew but are now right back at $27.

Andy's current take: "Westport Innovations is building heavy-duty engines that run on natural gas and has partnerships with six of the 10 top truck manufacturers. Worldwide, themarket for heavy trucks is estimated to hit $340 billion in 2014, and Westport is positioned to grab a disproportionate share of the market given its broad reach within the industry."

4. " This UnlovedStock Could Double"
Don't catch falling knives. That's the lesson I should have heeded WFR). Shares of the semiconductor and solar equipment provider had fallen from above $80 in early 2008 to just $4 this past spring, but rather than rebounding, shares kept falling, until they bottomed out at around $1.60 in the summer.

Had I waited for the selling to abate, I would have looked wiser, as shares have finally started to reverse course. It's cold comfort that this stock has finally doubled from its lows, though I'd add that shares have ampleupside from current levels as management has finally begun delivering on the promise of a risingcash flow .

5. " Forget Coca-Cola: Buy This Stock Instead"
Again, SODA) had slumped from the52-week high of $48 to just $30 by the time he profiled the beverage maker in May 2012 and they subsequently rebounded 50% right back to a recent $48.

6. " This Could be the World's Best Oil Stock"
My colleague Tim Begany PBR) after its stock had fallen from $70 in 2008 to $50 in 2009 to just $30 by the time of his profile. Well, this stock continues to vex investors, and now trades around $20. That's right where shares stood in 2006 -- before Petrobras announced it had found massive deposits of oil buried off the Brazilian coast.

Blame goes to a series of missed financial and development targets, though I share Tim's view that this stockwill find favor as production ramps in coming years and "Petrobras elevates Brazil to the status of an elite oil-producing nation."

7. " Forget Facebook: This Social Media Stock is Ready to Break out"
Dave Goodboy's spring-time suggestion to FB) was a wise one, as shares slumped badly over the summer. However, shares have subsequently rebounded back to the level where Dave issued his "steer clear" message. Meanwhile, Dave's suggestion to instead focus on RenRen (Nasdaq: RENN), the "Facebook of China" was a bit premature, as all kinds of Chinese stocks slumped into the summer and fall.

But RenRen has started to rebound in recent weeks -- along with other Chinese stocks, so this pick now deserves a fresh look.

8. " It's Time to Sell This Popular Oil Stock"
Tim Begany'sbullish bearish view of Diamond Offshore ( DO ) . He noted that a long period of under-investment meant that "Diamond Offshore now has one of the oldest fleets in the offshore drilling industry, with an average rig age of nearly 30 years." Tim's timing was initially impeccable as shares fell 20% in coming months, though they have subsequently re-traced those losses back to the levels that Tim initially saw them asovervalued .

9. " Is McDonald's Stock Now a Buy?"
My colleague James Brumleybottom line is, McDonald's is a 'right company, right time' proposition. Though many would still argue the trailing price-to-earnings (P/E ) ratio is still frothy at 16.8, it's not an unusual price tag for ablue chip as reliable as this one."

10. " Forget Gold: Double YourMoney with this Instead"
Michael Vodicka weighed on the classic "gold vs. silver" debatehedge againstinflation ." Though Michael's focus on the Silver Shares TrustETF ( SLV ) has yet to pay off, I share his bullish view. In thisfund play.

Action to Take -->  Many of our stock ideas should be seen with a multi-year time horizon, so any time you takenote of a stock pick that has failed to gain traction thus far, it's worthwhile to give theinvestment opportunity a fresh look. They may be slow out of the gate, but could still race to the finish.