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5 Rocket Stocks to Buy for December

Tickers in this article: HOG CSCO ORLY ITW COH
BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Well, the weather outside is frightful, but the market is... well, the market is looking a whole lot better than it was just a couple of weeks ago.

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Today marks the first trading day of December, and there are more than a few headlines trying to scare investors this month: the looming fiscal cliff; the ongoing drama in the eurozone; even the "end of the world" on December 21 is conspiring against Mr. Market. But those factors aren't scaring off a bounce off of a key support level down at 1350 for the S&P 500 .

For that reason, there's a lot of commonality between this winter and last winter. Both periods were filled with investor anxiety, both had Mr. Market at the mercy of Capitol Hill (then, it was the debt ceiling) -- but last winter was followed up by a massive rally into the second quarter.

That's a big part of why sentiment has been shifting for the better lately. And it's why we're taking a closer look at five new Rocket Stocks to start the 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 179 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500 by 74.5%.

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

Cisco Systems

First up is IP networking giant Cisco Systems (CSCO) . Cisco is the world's biggest supplier of computer networking hardware and software, making the firm a critical link in the global internet infrastructure chain. As users' needs continue to balloon, Cisco is enjoying the increased enterprise IT spending that's been filling its coffers for the last few years.

Cisco also enjoys a strong position building consumer-grade networking hardware, after acquiring Linksys back in 2003. The success may have been a bit dangerous, however -- it spurred Cisco into thinking that it should start manufacturing other consumer electronics. That proved to be a costly experiment, ultimately ending with Cisco's management shuttering its Flip camera business last year. If nothing else, the disappointment in Cisco's consumer electronics business has helped to refocus the firm on its core enterprise customer.

Financially, Cisco is in stellar shape, with more than $45 billion in cash offsetting a $16.3 billion debt load. That financial wherewithal gives Cisco ample dry powder for acquisitions in 2013 -- as long as management can avoid the urge to overpay, shareholders should be able to see added value from a deal.