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The following is a list of stocks approaching a 52-week high. All of these stocks have seen improving analyst sentiment over the last 3 months.

If you're a contrarian, or if you believe that analyst rating changes tend to lag performance, this excessive optimism might raise a flag.

Analyst ratings are presented on a linear scale, where 1 = "Strong Buy" and 5 = "Strong Sell." All of the stocks in our list have seen analyst ratings move closer to 1 over the last three months, i.e. more optimistic analyst rating.

Moving average data sourced from Finviz (based on yesterday's closing prices). Analyst ratings sourced from Reuters.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare monthly returns and market caps for all the stocks mentioned below.

The list has been sorted by change in analyst opinion over the past three months.

1. Lithia Motors Inc. (NYSE:LAD): Auto Dealerships Industry. Market cap of $346.61M. Analyst rating has moved from 2.25 to 1.75 over the last three months. Short float at 8.01%, which implies a short ratio of 7.62 days. The stock has gained 42.84% over the last year.

2. Darling International Inc. (NYSE:DAR): Cleaning Products Industry. Market cap of $991.99M. Analyst rating has moved from 2.2 to 1.8 over the last three months. Short float at 3.11%, which implies a short ratio of 4.95 days. The stock has gained 74.35% over the last year.

3. Lihua International, Inc. (NASDAQ:LIWA): Copper Industry. Market cap of $365.12M. Analyst rating has moved from 2 to 1.67 over the last three months. Short float at 7.01%, which implies a short ratio of 5.05 days. The stock has gained 37.69% over the last year.

4. Rosetta Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ:ROSE): Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $1.69B. Analyst rating has moved from 2.06 to 1.76 over the last three months. Short float at 6.07%, which implies a short ratio of 5.12 days. The stock has gained 117.84% over the last year.

5. Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU): Aluminum Industry. Market cap of $904.49M. Analyst rating has moved from 2.25 to 2 over the last three months. Short float at 6.98%, which implies a short ratio of 7.27 days. The stock has gained 13.4% over the last year.

6. Oil States International Inc. (NYSE:OIS): Oil & Gas Equipment & Services Industry. Market cap of $2.88B. Analyst rating has moved from 1.83 to 1.64 over the last three months. Short float at 4.86%, which implies a short ratio of 5.29 days. The stock has gained 53.32% over the last year.

7. Administaff Inc. (ASF): Staffing & Outsourcing Services Industry. Market cap of $757.61M. Analyst rating has moved from 2.62 to 2.38 over the last three months. Short float at 4.01%, which implies a short ratio of 6.25 days. The stock has gained 29.1% over the last year.

8. Linn Energy, LLC (NASDAQ:LINE): Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $5.45B. Analyst rating has moved from 1.83 to 1.67 over the last three months. Short float at 1.81%, which implies a short ratio of 3.03 days. The stock has gained 64.03% over the last year.

9. Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLCM): Processing Systems & Products Industry. Market cap of $3.02B. Analyst rating has moved from 2.19 to 2.0 over the last three months. Short float at 11.7%, which implies a short ratio of 5.8 days. The stock has gained 53.5% over the last year.


Disclosure: No positions

Source: 9 Stocks Hitting New Highs on Improving Analyst Sentiment