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Zacks #1 Rank Top Performers

It was a good and solid day for the market on Wednesday. The Dow climbed 0.5%, or 61.53 points, while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ moved higher by 0.63% and 0.76%, respectively.

Here are the top 2 performers among Zacks #1 Rank stocks today...

The top-performing Zacks #1 Rank company in Wednesday's session was Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation (NOR - Snapshot Report), which announced solid fourth-quarter results during the day.

Shares shot higher by 10.7%, which made it the only company that advanced in the double digits on Wednesday. Volume almost reached 1.2 million shares, compared to the daily average of around 215,000.

NOR is a leading North American integrated producer of value-added primary aluminum products, as well as high quality rolled aluminum coils. It is the only company from the metal products-dist industry on today's Zacks #1 Rank List.

Excluding items, Noranda Aluminum earned 40 cents per share in its fourth quarter, which topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate at 34 cents. Sales jumped by more than 50% from last year to approximately $344 million.

According to the company, it was able to convert higher fourth-quarter aluminum prices into these strong numbers because of its continued focus on cost discipline and productivity.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2011 is at $1.51 per share, which is up about 18% in the past 30 days.

Nursing home operator Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc. (SKH - Snapshot Report) almost reached the double digits as well. However, at the end of the day, it came in just under with a gain of 9.63%. Volume was around 1.375 million shares, compared to the daily average of around 450,000.

On Monday, SKH announced adjusted fourth-quarter earnings per share of 31 cents, compared to 25 cents a year earlier. The result surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by about 10.7%.

As you can see in the chart below, the company has a lot of experience when it comes to outperforming. It has beaten expectations for 6 straight quarters now:

skilled healthcare earnings surprises.

Revenue increased 17.2% year over year to $220.7 million.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2011 is $1.27 per share. In the past 7 days, there have been 3 upward revisions out of 13 total estimates, but that has only accounted for a penny increase. However, over the past 3 months the guidance has jumped more than 40%.

As for 2012, the Zacks Consensus Estimate is currently about 7% higher than this year at $1.36 per share. Estimates have been a bit more active for this period. There is a penny increase in the past 7 days, but there has also been a 3.8% improvement in the past 30 days. Furthermore, the guidance is up 33% in 3 months.

Skilled Healthcare is not the only company from the medical – nursing homes industry on today's Zacks #1 Rank List. There are 2 other names: Kindred Healthcare, Inc. (KND - Snapshot Report) and National HealthCare Corporation .

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