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Market Dispatches9/29/2006 4:44 PM ET

StockScouter spots financial, specialty retail plays

An analysis featuring MSN Money's StockScouter tool uncovers the 50 stocks best positioned to appreciate in October.

Some regional banks are trading at all-time highs, but the shares may have room to run.

Investors have been drawn to the regional banks by the prospects for solid returns in a relatively low-risk environment. Bank shares are also getting a boost from interest from private equity funds, Dow Jones reported. The funds are pouring money into startups and community banks that want to expand their branch networks and loan portfolios in some of the country's fastest-growing markets.

Regional banks are prominent on the StockScouter list of the 50 stocks best positioned to appreciate in October.

Names on the list include Los Angeles-based Preferred Bank (PFBC, news, msgs), which hit an all-time high of $62.30 on Sept. 29; Kalispell, Mont.-based Glacier Bancorp (GBCI, news, msgs), which hit an all-time high of $34.86 on Sept. 28; Houston-based Metrocorp Bancshares (MCBI, news, msgs), which reached an all-time high of $23.59 on Sept. 28; and Warren, Pa.-based Northwest Bancorp (NWSB, news, msgs). The stock hit an all-time high of $27.25 on Aug. 18.

Falling gasoline prices buoyed consumer confidence in September. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose to 85.4 this month, up from 82 in August and the highest since April. Pump prices, which hit a record above $3 per gallon, have retreated in recent days to around $2.38 a gallon.

More money in consumers' pockets is good news for retailers. A pair of specialty retailers made the October list: intimate-apparel maker Maidenform Brands (MFB, news, msgs) and maternity apparel designer Mothers Work (MWRK, news, msgs). Another consumer-oriented stock, Morton's Restaurant Group (MRT, news, msgs), is also on the list.

The 50-stock list is based on an analysis from independent research firm Gradient Analytics that incorporates the StockScouter rating tool used by MSN Money.

MSN Money and Gradient Analytics built the StockScouter tool to help individual investors quickly analyze and assess a stock's potential for outperforming the broad market.

StockScouter depends on advanced mathematics, software and an innovative mix of measurements and historical testing to forecast the short- and long-term outlook for all U.S. companies that have traded on the three major exchanges for at least the past six months.

The analytical tools are used to score stocks on fundamental, valuation, technical and ownership components. This score is combined with each company's StockScouter rating to come up with the list at the bottom of this page. Only stocks with a final closing price above $3 are eligible for the list.

  • Click here for more on how the StockScouter tool works.

StockScouter picks for October
CompanySept. 28 closeStockScouter rating

CONSOLIDATED COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS INC (CNSL, news, msgs)

18.85

10

ICON PLC (ICLR, news, msgs)

70.90

10

ELONG INC (LONG, news, msgs)

14.50

10

MAIDENFORM BRANDS INC (MFB, news, msgs)

18.89

10

IPCS INC (IPCS, news, msgs)

52.95

9

YORK WATER CO (YORW, news, msgs)

18.96

10

COMPASS DIVERSIFIED TRUST (CODI, news, msgs)

15.36

9

ENBRIDGE ENERGY MANAGEMENT L L C (EEQ, news, msgs)

46.24

8

AVATAR HOLDINGS INC (AVTR, news, msgs)

60.48

8

MORTON'S RESTAURANT GROUP INC (MRT, news, msgs)

15.19

8

NORTHWEST BANCORP INC (NWSB, news, msgs)

26.26

8

BANKUNITED FINANCIAL CORP (BKUNA, news, msgs)

26.74

10

GLACIER BANCORP INC NEW (GBCI, news, msgs)

34.57

10

HARLEYSVILLE GROUP INC (HGIC, news, msgs)

35.14

10

INVESTORS TITLE CO (ITIC, news, msgs)

46.00

10

LUMINENT MORTGAGE CAPITAL INC (LUM, news, msgs)

10.37

10

MEDICAL PROPERTIES TRUST INC (MPW, news, msgs)

13.33

10

GENCO SHIPPING & TRADING LTD (GSTL, news, msgs)

22.79

10

BIO-REFERENCE LABORATORIES INC (BRLI, news, msgs)

23.02

10

CT COMMUNICATIONS INC (CTCI, news, msgs)

21.99

10

CENTRACORE PROPERTIES TRUST (CPV, news, msgs)

31.77

10

FIRST CONSULTING GROUP INC (FCGI, news, msgs)

10.05

10

HARRIS INTERACTIVE INC (HPOL, news, msgs)

6.21

10

INFOCROSSING INC (IFOX, news, msgs)

13.41

10

JAMES RIVER GROUP INC (JRVR, news, msgs)

29.5

10

KIMBALL INTERNATIONAL INC (KBALB, news, msgs)

19.75

10

NATIONAL PENN BANCSHARES INC (NPBC, news, msgs)

20.37

10

AMBASSADORS INTERNATIONAL INC (AMIE, news, msgs)

32.58

10

MOTHERS WORK INC (MWRK, news, msgs)

48.58

10

SMITH & WESSON HOLDING CORP (SWHC, news, msgs)

13.66

10

UNITED RETAIL GROUP INC (URGI, news, msgs)

17.96

10

CLECO CORP NEW (CNL, news, msgs)

25.64

9

COMMONWEALTH TELEPHONE ENTERPRISES INC (CTCO, news, msgs)

41.40

9

NGP CAPITAL RESOURCES CO (NGPC, news, msgs)

14.67

9

PROSPERITY BANCSHARES INC (PRSP, news, msgs)

34.67

9

CAPITAL TRUST INC (CT, news, msgs)

41.56

9

FIRST POTOMAC REALTY TRUST (FPO, news, msgs)

30.27

9

HIGHLAND HOSPITALITY CORP (HIH, news, msgs)

14.76

9

JER INVESTORS TRUST INC (JRT, news, msgs)

17.02

9

NEWKIRK REALTY TRUST INC (NKT, news, msgs)

16.59

9

PREFERRED BANK (PFBC, news, msgs)

62.22

9

AMREP CORP (AXR, news, msgs)

49.15

8

LIQUIDITY SERVICES INC (LQDT, news, msgs)

16.00

8

MARCUS CORP (MCS, news, msgs)

23.84

8

PEOPLESUPPORT INC (PSPT, news, msgs)

18.30

8

ATLAS AIR WORLDWIDE HOLDINGS INC (AAWW, news, msgs)

43.92

10

CENTRAL PARKING CORP (CPC, news, msgs)

16.97

10

HORIZON LINES INC (HRZ, news, msgs)

16.39

10

METROCORP BANCSHARES INC (MCBI, news, msgs)

23.44

10

TRIARC COS INC (TRY, news, msgs)

15.49

10

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Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. © 2005. All rights reserved.
StockScouter data provided by Gradient Analytics, Inc.
Quotes supplied by Comstock, an Interactive Data company.
MSN Money's editorial goal is to provide a forum for personal finance and investment ideas. Our articles, columns, message board posts and other features should not be construed as investment advice, nor does their appearance imply an endorsement by Microsoft of any specific security or trading strategy. An investor's best course of action must be based on individual circumstances.
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