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The Nasdaq's rally past 3000 this past week marks a level not seen since 2000. The technology index crossed the level for the first time in 12 years on March 13. The gain may well be led by the heavily weighted Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), but other companies deserve some attention too. In particular, companies seeing a large change in earnings per share forecasts may provide further price moves.

Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC) - Avoid

Western Digital is up 68.99% from its 52-week low, and is up 23.62% in 2012. Shares closed at $38.26 after failing to break the $40-level in February and in early March. The consensus EPS forecast from analysts increased by as much as 11.50%:

Company

Mar 14 2012

Mar 13 2012

Daily Chg

Change Level

Qtr

Western Digital Corp

$1.44

$1.38

4.30%

$0.06

Q1 2012

Western Digital Corp

$2.03

$1.82

11.50%

$0.21

Q2 2012

Western Digital Corp

$2.14

$2.08

2.90%

$0.06

Q3 2012

Western Digital Corp

$2.05

$1.90

7.90%

$0.15

Q4 2012

Western Digital's gains are due to optimism for the demand for storage. The exponential growth rates from social media companies and for cloud computing is fueling this optimism. Shares of EMC, VMWare (NYSE:VMW), and Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) all appreciated as well in the same time period. This implies that Western Digital has further room to rise, when valuations are used for comparison.

The average target price from 17 analysts for Western Digital is $46.84. This implies an upside of 22.4%. Investors should not be buying storage plays at this time. The shortage due to Thailand's flood last year helped raise unit prices. As supplies return to normal, margins for storage makers will once again be under pressure.

Corning (NYSE:GLW) - Buy

Corning shares are range-bound between $13 and $15. Shares closed at $14.33. Analysts are bearish on Corning, with earnings per share estimates dropping 3%. Analysts reduced the estimate from $0.33 for Q2 2012 on March 9 to $0.32 on March 12.

On March 7, a director bought $1.9M or 150,000 shares at $12.75. Steady earnings from LCD TVs are waning. Growth prospects for Corning depend on the demand for gorilla glass in mobile products. Until Corning reports improving earnings from handset makers, upside in the stock will be limited.

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) - Buy

Micron received an upgrade from Pacific Crest Securities. The securities firm raised its price target for the stock to $12. Micron closed at $8.82 and is well-above the $4 bottom in October 2011.

Investors are betting that DRAM prices are finally stabilizing. Hynix Semiconductor commented that DRAM prices were starting to stabilize. The average EPS estimate for Q4/2012 increased by 7.7% between March 14, and March 15, to $0.14.

Shares remain 25% below a 52-week high. Investors wanting to participate in a price-recovery for DRAM should consider buying Micron. In the short term, Micron might see a pull back. The company is reporting on March 22. The expectation is for Micron to report revenue of $2B and a loss of $0.19 per share. Close attention should be paid to Micron's projected growth in the NAND market.

Cliff Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) - Buy

The recent setback for mining and resource shares represents a buying opportunity for investors seeking diversification away from technology. Cliff Natural Resources shares rallied $12 last week to close at $72.03. The company unexpectedly raised its dividend by 125% to $0.63. In a statement issued by the company, Cliffs Natural Resources said that its "strong financial profile and cash flow generation" would allow it to return capital to shareholders.

Analysts were not convinced. Earnings per share estimates were revised, as analysts reduced EPS estimates by as much as 3.3%:

Company

Mar 14 2012

Mar 13 2012

Daily Chg

Change Level

Qtr

Cliffs Natural Resources

$1.17

$1.21

-3.30%

($0.04)

Q1 2012

Cliffs Natural Resources

$2.36

$2.40

-1.70%

($0.04)

Q2 2012

Cliffs Natural Resources

$3.03

$3.06

-1.00%

($0.03)

Q3 2012

Cliffs Natural Resources

$3.07

$3.09

-0.60%

($0.02)

Q4 2012

Analysts also decreased Cliffs' target price by 1.70% to $90.79. This still represents an upside of 26%. Investors should continue to be buyers of this stock. The reasons are a two-fold: management's strong cash flow outlook for 2012 and a discipline for committing to positive shareholder return.

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) - Sell

Investors seeking to diversify to precious metals should not be doing so at this time. Gold prices are up for 2012, but dropped nearly $140 since February. Gold producers like Barrick Gold saw a big drop in recent sessions to $43.95. Factors governing the movement in this sector are difficult to predict. Barrick is seeing its production costs soar. This makes it difficult for the company to improve profit margins even if gold prices rise.

Source: How These Stocks Will Fare With Nasdaq On A Tear: 3 To Buy, 2 To Avoid