StreetAuthority's Most Popular Stock Picks of 2012

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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 Slaughter wrote this story in May 2012 , before natural gas kicked off a solid summer rally. Thespot price for natural gas surged from just above per thousand cubic feet ( MCF ) to above .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 his Scarcity & Real Wealth newsletter, including the best ways toprofit .

2. " The Man Who Made 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 (NYSE: 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 ),maker of natural gas engines , in his Game-Changing Stocks newsletter for several years. By the time he looked at in this article,shares had slumped nearly 40% in just two months. Shares subsequently rallied anew but are now right back at .

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 0 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 when I predicted a 100% potential gain for MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE: WFR ) . Shares of the semiconductor and solar equipment provider had fallen from above in early 2008 to just this past spring, but rather than rebounding, shares kept falling, until they bottomed out at around .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 thisstock 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, Andy nailed this one . Shares of Sodastream (Nasdaq: SODA ) had slumped from the52-week high of to just by the time he profiled the beverage maker in May 2012 and they subsequently rebounded 50% right back to a recent .

6. " This Could be the World's Best Oil Stock" My colleague Tim Begany aimed to capture lighting in a bottle with Brazilian oil giant Petrobras (NYSE: PBR ) after its stock had fallen from in 2008 to in 2009 to just by the time of his profile. Well, this stock continues to vex investors, and now trades around . 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 steer clear ofFacebook(Nasdaq: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 view on Petrobras was paired with thisbearish view of Diamond Offshore (NYSE: 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 Brumley answered the titular question with an emphatic "yes." James figured the 10% pullback in the stock as we headed into summer was a fresh entry point for investors. Though shares have been range-bound, his conclusion still holds: "Thebottom 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" debate this past September and concluded that silver's industrial uses provide it "with another layer of demand that goes far beyond its use as ahedge againstinflation ." Though Michael's focus on the Silver Shares TrustETF (NYSE: SLV ) has yet to pay off, I share his bullish view. In this more recent piece , I suggested that Silver Wheaton was an especially appealing stock, in tandem with Michael's bullish exchange-tradedfund 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.

-- David Sterman

P.S. -- Have you read our latest report -- Top 10 Stocks for 2013? One stock has raised its dividend 33 consecutive quarters. Another dominates its market... pays $3.40 in dividends per share each year... and has returned 117% since it went public just over four years ago. In this special presentation, I'll tell you about all of our just-released picks for 2013 -- including several names and ticker symbols -- so that you can start profiting today. Click here to learn more.

David Sterman does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article. StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.

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

© Copyright 2001-2010 StreetAuthority, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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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