Watched Kettles Never Boil: How Orphan Stocks Outperform Peers (ARDNA, CFCP, NMIL, NREB)

by: Eddy Elfenbein

Eddy Elfenbein submits: I love finding great stocks that are under-followed by Wall Street. Now the International Herald Tribune brings evidence that the ignored stocks do better than their well-watched peers:

Data compiled by Bloomberg showed 49 companies with market values of $1 billion or more that are covered by no more than one analyst. The median gain for the group over the past year was 17 percent, compared with an 11 percent rise in the S&P 500.

Stocks in S&P's U.S. indexes with the lowest, yet growing, number of analysts have returned 26 percent annually since 1995, according to a report this month by Trahan. Companies with high and growing analyst coverage did not fare as well, rising 13 percent a year.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is followed by over 30 analysts, yet many great companies are completely ignored. Ever heard of Northern Empire Bancshares (NREB)? Neither has Wall Street. There's not a single analyst who follows it, but check out these earnings:

1999: $0.55
2000: $0.68
2001: $0.77
2002: $0.81
2003: $0.97
2004: $1.18
2005: $1.51

Not too shabby. For the first quarter of 2006, the company earned 39 cents a share, versus 37 cents last year. The stock is actually down since last summer.

Some other unfollowed gems: Arden Group (NASDAQ:ARDNA), Coastal Financial (CFCP) and NewMil Bancorp (NMIL).