Stocks for All Seasons

Here are 14 shares that have made steady gains in the last five years -- through bull and bear markets -- and may keep doing so

By Michael Kaye

Making money seemed almost automatic in the stock-market bubble of the late '90s. Conversely, few investors have been left unscathed by the brutal bear market of the last three years. Wouldn't it be nice to find some sturdy "all-weather" stocks -- those that are able to prosper through bull and bear markets, through economic booms and slumps?

That's what we set out to look for in this week's screen. We searched our database for stocks that have had positive total returns year-over-year since 1998 and provided a similar showing thus far in 2003. These issues have chugged along, providing steady gains in a variety of stock market and economic conditions.

While these stocks may boast an enviable track record over the last five years, that's no guarantee that they'll continue to prosper. So we applied one final filter to uncover the stocks within this elect group that still hold promise for further gains: They have to carry S&P's highest investment rankings of 4 STARS (accumulate) or 5 STARS (buy), meaning that our equity analysts expect them to outperform the overall market in the next 6 to 12 months.

These 14 names emerged:

All-weather stocks
Company Name/Ticker S&P STARS Rank
Applebees (APPB ) 5
Bear Stearns Cos. (BSC ) 4
Career Education (CECO ) 4
Equitable Resources (EQT ) 4
Forest Laboratories (FRX ) 4
FTI Consulting (FCN ) 5
Gilead Sciences (GILD ) 5
Occidental Petroleum (OXY ) 4
Ocean Energy (OEI ) 5
Southtrust (SOTR ) 4
St. Jude Medical (STJ ) 4
Varian Medical Systems (VAR ) 5

Kaye is a portfolio services analyst for Standard & Poor's

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