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Noranda Aluminum and Skilled Healthcare

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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), 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) 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 - Free Report) and National HealthCare Corporation .

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