Bucking the Bear

Here are nine stocks that have fared well during the market slump and that maintain S&P's top ratings for future growth

By Numer de Guia

The three-year bear market has been agonizing. But of course, not every stock has shared in the pain. At Standard & Poor's, we wanted to find shares that have continued to thrive amid the downturn -- and still offer the potential for further gains.

In building this week's screen, we looked for stocks that in any 12-month period from March, 1999, to January, 2003, posted a minimum return of 1.86%. Why that figure? That's comparable to the national average of one-year CD rates now available, as reported on Bankrate.com. So investors in these shares did as well, or better than, the "safe harbor" offered by CDs.

Out of that group, we then sifted for stocks ranked 4 STARS (accumulate) or 5 STARS (buy) by S&P analysts, meaning they're expected to outperform the overall market over the next 6 to 12 months.

These nine names emerged:

Company Name/ Ticker STARS Ranking
Chicos FAS (CHS ) 5
Dean Foods (DF ) 5
Dentsply International (XRAY ) 5
FTI Consulting (FCN ) 5
Hilb Rogal & Hamilton (HRH ) 4
Landstar System (LSTR ) 5
Patina Oil & Gas (POG ) 4
UnitedHealth Group (UNH ) 4
Varian Medical Systems (VAR ) 5

De Guia is a portfolio services analyst for Standard & Poor's

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.