5 Rocket Stocks to Buy for a Happy New Year

Tickers in this article: AZN BIDU CRM HTZ WFC
BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- It may be New Year's Eve today, but Mr. Market isn't pulling out the noisemakers and hunkering down to watch the ball drop just yet; we've got the final trading day of 2012 to get through first.

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And early indications point the year ending on a high note today...

Even though stocks have been in corrective mode for the last couple of weeks, 2012 was probably a more bullish year than it felt like. Stocks rallied more than 11.5% between January's first trading session and Friday's close, making the year a solid performer on a historical basis. If it didn't feel like it to you, you're not alone -- investors have been underestimating the market's performance since the housing crash sent retail investors fleeing from stocks. Bloomberg estimates that Americans have missed out on $200 billion of stocks gains because of that.

Now, the fact that the S&P 500 remains in a well-defined uptrend heading into 2013 bodes well for a repeat performance. So it may be a good time to tune into the stock stories getting told on Wall Street right now. That's why we're turning to a new set of Rocket Stock names this week.

For the uninitiated, "Rocket Stocks" are our list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. To find them, I run a weekly quantitative screen that seeks out stocks with a combination of analyst upgrades and positive earnings surprises to identify rising analyst expectations, a bullish signal for stocks in any market. After all, where analysts' expectations are increasing, institutional cash often follows. In the last 182 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500 by 72.9%.

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Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks .

Wells Fargo

2012 has been a stellar year for Wells Fargo (WFC) . Shares of the $180 billion banking giant have rallied more than 23% so far this year, besting the broad market by a wide margin. Wells Fargo has earned a reputation as the best of the bank stocks -- and by and large, that's a reputation that the 160-year-old firm has lived up to.

Wells Fargo is a conventional retail bank. The firm earns the lion's share of its business as a lender and deposit gatherer, a model that had been eschewed by most of the larger U.S. banks heading into the financial crisis of 2008, only to be re-embraced when the dust cleared. 2008 was a big year for Wells Fargo -- it gave the firm an opportunity to acquire Wachovia at fire sale prices, doubling in size and greatly increasing its exposure on the East Coast.