Personal Finance

3 Stocks at 52-Week Highs Still Worth Buying

A gloved hand holds a solution in a beaker, with other scientific materials in the background.

Investors may be leery of buying a stock that's hit a new 52-week high, thinking they've missed all the upside potential. While that's possible, many times the new high is only the latest stop on the way to even greater heights.

We asked three top Motley Fool contributors to identify a stock that's not only hit new highs but also still has more room to run. Read on to why Kite Pharma (NASDAQ: KITE) , Pembina Pipeline (NYSE: PBA) , and Altria (NYSE: MO) may still have further gains to make.

A gloved hand holds a solution in a beaker, with other scientific materials in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

Flying high as a kite

Keith Speights ( Kite Pharma ): Clinical-stage biotech Kite Pharma had a miserable 2016. There was considerable investor angst over the company's experimental chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) drugs in light of safety issues another biotech encountered developing CAR-T drugs. Things look much better now, though. Kite Pharma stock has more than doubled in price so far in 2017, recently hitting a 52-week and all-time high.

Kite announced great results in late February from a clinical study of axicabtagene ciloleucel, also referred to as axi-cel, in treating aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Based on those results, the biotech submitted the drug for FDA approval, with a decision expected by Nov. 29.

FDA approval isn't a slam dunk, though. In early May, Kite reported the death of a patient taking axi-cel. However, this patient was very frail and hadn't responded to any previous treatments. The overall safety track record of the experimental drug is good, with more than 200 patients taking axi-cel without the brain swelling that can occur with CAR-T therapies.

Still, patients with aggressive NHL don't have many good treatment options, and they have only a 50% chance of surviving six months. This seriousness of the condition could help nudge the FDA toward approving axi-cel.

If Kite does win regulatory approval, the stock is likely to fly even higher. Some analysts project that axi-cel could generate peak annual sales of around $2 billion if it's approved for all targeted indications. Moreover, Kite remains the only small biotech developing CAR-T drugs that isn't joined at the hip with a larger biotech, which makes the company an attractive acquisition opportunity.

Multiple pipes run through a natural gas pipeline station.

Image source: Getty Images.

This pipeline stock still has plenty of growth left in the tank

Matt DiLallo ( Pembina Pipeline ): While Canadian energy infrastructure company Pembina Pipeline recently hit a new high for 2017, the company's stock hasn't done that much over the past year, rising only 6% against a 17% rally in the broader market. That relative underperformance comes despite delivering record earnings and cash flow last year, thanks to record volumes flowing through its pipelines after the company placed 1.2 billion Canadian dollars' worth of projects (or $900 million) into service.

Yet the company is on pace to shatter last year's records in 2017. Not only does it expect to complete another CA$4 billion ($3 billion) of growth projects, but it also recently announced the acquisition of Veresen (TSX: VSN) , which will transform it into a CA$33 billion ($25 billion) North American energy-infrastructure giant. It's a deal that gives Pembina Pipeline the confidence to increase its dividend another 5.9% once the transaction closes, which is on top of the 6.25% boost it provided investors this past April. Meanwhile, with CA$6 billion ($4.5 billion) of secured growth projects under way and another CA$20 billion ($15 billion) of additional projects in development, Pembina expects that the combined entity can grow earnings by 8% to 10% annually over the next few years. That growth will probably lead to further dividend increases.

While Pembina Pipeline's stock is near its highest point of the year, that doesn't mean investors missed its upside. With a transformational acquisition coming down the pipeline, and a boatload of growth projects in development, this stock has the potential to continue growing for the next several years.

Philip Morris International's iQOS heat-not-burn electronic cigarette

Image source: Philip Morris International.

Ready to smoke the competition

Rich Duprey ( Altria ): Tobacco stocks have long been a staple of income-seeking investors because of their juicy dividends and often a good dose of significant capital appreciation, too. Altria has been on a run since late last year, following the November elections, and has recently hit new highs.

The reason the stock is soaring now is that the FDA is undertaking a review of the application submitted by Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) for its reduced-risk cigarette alternative, iQOS. The heat-not-burn (HNB) device promises to transform not only the tobacco industry but also the electronic-cigarette market, because it represents a healthier alternative to combustible cigarettes. If the FDA signs off on Philip Morris' application, the iQOS will be the first such product on the market that could advertise it was a better option for smokers, which should give it a huge competitive advantage.

The benefit for Altria is that it previously entered into a global marketing agreement with its one-time spinoff to market the e-cig as Marlboro HeatSticks.

The iQOS is a multi-part device that includes a disposable, tobacco-filled "cigarette" inserted into a heating element that heats the tobacco. A vapor, but not smoke, is created that the user then removes and "smokes." By not burning the tobacco and creating smoke, the iQOS and similar devices from other manufacturers avoid most of the harmful, toxic chemicals that are created by combustible cigarettes. It's been found that HNB devices have 95% fewer such chemicals than their traditional smokes.

The iQOS has been rolling out in several foreign markets, including Japan, but the U.S. market and the potential reduced-risk designation could be huge for Altria and its progeny. If approved, Altria's stock has the potential to burn the competition.

10 stocks we like better than Kite Pharma

When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor , has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Kite Pharma wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

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*Stock Advisor returns as of June 5, 2017

Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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