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The five best performing stocks on the Zacks #1 Rank List last week were: Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. ( ANR - Snapshot Report ) , GrafTech International Ltd. ( GTI - Snapshot Report ) , Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd. ( GNK - Snapshot Report ) , Rosetta Resources Inc. ( ROSE - Snapshot Report ) and Sohu.com, Inc. ( SOHU - Analyst Report ) .
For its first quarter, Alpha Natural Resources announced the highest quarterly price realization in its history, thanks to rising metallurgical coal exports and price levels. The company announced earnings per share of 39 cents on May 5, which tripled the year-ago result of 13 cents while topping the consensus by more than 129%. Coal sales increased 17% to $445.7 million from $380.2 million. Looking forward, Alpha Natural Resources believes that supply and demand conditions in both domestic and international steel markets will support a strong price environment.
GrafTech International Ltd. ( GTI - Snapshot Report ) advanced 12.2% last week, which was enough to make the graphite electrodes maker a top performing Zacks #1 Rank company. Encouraged by conditions in the global steel industry, GTI raised its 2008 sales guidance; now expecting an increase between 16% and 18% rather than its previous outlook of an increase between 12% and 14%.
First-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations, before items, reached 53 cents, compared to 27 cents a year earlier. The result eclipsed the consensus by about 39.5%. The company has an excellent record of surpassing Wall Street's quarterly earnings expectations, and has assembled an average surprise of 34% over the past four quarters. Sales moved forward 27% to $290 million from $228 million. GrafTech has weathered high raw material costs through higher prices, productivity initiatives and penetrating high growth markets such as solar. Earnings estimates for this year are up 21.6% over the past three months, including a gain of 9.4% in the past 30 days.
Earnings estimates for Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd. ( GNK - Snapshot Report ) continue to move higher as demand for vessels remains high. Earnings estimates for this year are up 12.5% in the past two months, including a gain of 1.8% in the past seven days. On May 12, GNK adding to its expanding fleet by acquiring three drybulk vessels, built in 2007, for approximately $257 million. The vessels are expected to be delivered during the third and fourth quarters, and will ultimately bring its fleet to 35 drybulk vessels with an average age of about 6.6 years.
GNK was a Zacks #1 Rank Top Performer last week as shares gained 11.6%. The company has an average EPS surprise of about 15% over the past three quarters. In its first quarter, earnings per share, excluding items, of $1.65 topped the consensus by 13% and advanced from the year-ago level of 65 cents. Revenues moved higher by 146% to $91.7 million, compared to $37.2 million in the first quarter of 2007.
Rosetta Resources Inc. ( ROSE - Snapshot Report ) was a top-performing Zacks #1 Rank for the week ended May 16 as shares advanced 11.1%. As with most of its industry, this independent oil & gas company is capitalizing on historic energy prices, and recently reported its highest net income and production since becoming a stand alone company. Earnings estimates for this year have been moving higher for several months, including gains of 27% over the past two months and 5.8% in the past seven days.
ROSE announced first-quarter earnings per share of 54 cents earlier this month, which marked a 93% year-over-year gain from 28 cents in the same quarter of 2007. The result also marked a surprise of more than 38% over the consensus. Revenues jumped 69% to $128.3 million, and production was up 41% to 152 MMcfe/d.
Sohu.com, Inc. ( SOHU - Analyst Report ) gained 10.2% last week, reserving a spot on the Zacks #1 Rank Top Performers list for the week ended May 16. SOHU, the leading Internet portal in China, was also the top performer for all of April. The company has been on a roll when it comes to quarterly earnings, having beaten for four straight quarters with an average surprise of almost 19%. Most recently, SOHU announced earnings per share of US55 cents in its first quarter, which easily surpassed the year-ago mark of 12 cents while also eclipsing the consensus by 41%. Total revenues improved 156% year over year to $84.8 million.
Earnings estimates for this year are up 25% from one month ago. Furthermore, analysts currently expect next year's earnings to be about 25% better than this year's. Another potential boon for SOHU is its sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As part of a three-day national mourning for earthquake victims, SOHU suspended its online game services on May 19 and will resume at 1:30 am on May 22.
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