Will 2024 Be a ‘Stock Picker’s Paradise’? 3 Names to Watch.

Stocks to buy

Market strategists at Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) recently made headlines by forecasting that the S&P 500 will reach a record level of 5,000 by the end of 2024. In a note to clients, the BoA team, led by analyst Savita Subramanian, said the New Year should usher in a “stock picker’s paradise,” as the bank foresees a bullish year ahead for equities. Subramanian said Bank of America is bullish on stocks “not because we expect the Fed to cut, but because of what the Fed has accomplished,” adding that “the market has absorbed significant geopolitical shocks already.” If the outlook is correct, the market rally we enjoyed in November could be the beginning of a sustained bull run in equities over the coming 12 months. Will 2024 be a stock picker’s paradise? Here are three names to watch.

Amazon (AMZN)

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Holiday shopping this year, particularly online purchases, is off to a strong start. According to analytic data from Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE), consumers spent a record $9.8 billion shopping online for Black Friday deals over the Thanksgiving weekend. Results for Cyber Monday are not out yet, but Adobe forecasts that online shoppers will spend a record $12 billion for that sales event this year. This bodes well for e-commerce giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), whose winning streak should continue in the coming months.

Amazon’s core business continues to sell electronics and other items prized by consumers. The company always catches a tailwind over the holidays and heading into the new year. Amazon is also getting a big boost this Thanksgiving from the NFL football game it broadcasted on its Prime streaming service. AMZN stock gained an impressive 72% year-to-date (YTD), with more upside ahead. The median price target on the stock amongst 50 analysts is nearly 20% higher than current levels.

Uber Technologies (UBER)

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Keep an eye on Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER). The ride-hailing and delivery company could surprise in 2024. While Uber’s third-quarter earnings largely missed Wall Street targets, they contained some encouraging data that bodes well for the year ahead. For example, despite missing forecasts, Uber’s revenue was up 11% from a year ago, and the company reported a profit in Q3 compared with a net loss of $1.2 billion in the same quarter of 2022.

Additionally, Uber said that its gross bookings, trips and monthly active users rose 21% year-over-year in Q3 while the number of monthly active users on its platform reached 142 million, up 15% year-over-year (YoY). The company recorded 2.4 billion trips worldwide during Q3, up 25% YoY. These encouraging numbers helped UBER stock gain 31% in the last month, bringing its YTD increase to 121%. The median target for the shares is about 10% higher than where it currently trades.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW)

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Cybersecurity remains an important issue and this fact is reflected in the share price of Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW), which gained 94% this year and is on the cusp of doubling. PANW stock took a hit after the company’s Q3 earnings print, dipping 5% after the company announced quarterly billings failed to meet Wall Street forecasts. However, the pullback didn’t last long and Palo Alto Networks’ stock has risen 12% in the last month.

Palo Alto Networks issued forward guidance that was better than its Q3 results, and a little ahead of analysts’ expectations, helping to give the stock its recent lift. The company predicted revenue of $1.955 billion to $1.985 billion, in line with analyst estimates of $1.97 billion of revenue for the current fourth quarter. In terms of profit, Palo Alto called for $1.29 to $1.31 in earnings per share, which was above consensus forecasts of $1.25. PANW stock is up 367% over the last five years. The median price target on the stock is 4% higher than current levels.

On the date of publication, Joel Baglole held a long position in BAC. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.

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