Every country has its icons. In America, we have the bald eagle, baseball and apple pie. Of course, we also have a plethora of corporate icons. These are American companies that personify the essence of the country.
Now, I would never buy a stock, or even a product, just because it's quintessentially American. However, when iconic American companies have a confluence of news and/or technical factors in their favor, then that's all the more reason to check them out in pursuit of something else that all Americans love -- profits.
Toward this end, I like two stocks making news of late -- iconic American retail giant Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) and motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG). These two companies are about as American as it gets, and right now, both are positioned to deliver some flag-waving profits for traders. Let's take a closer look at each.
On Monday, the world's largest retailer teamed up with another iconic brand, American Express (NYSE: AXP) to offer a prepaid debit card that offers unique services designed to help customer manage and control their everyday finances. The new program, called Bluebird, is basically an alternative to debit and checking accounts and will include features such as the ability to deposit a check to your Bluebird account via your smartphone. It will also offer American Express' outstanding fraud protection services.
News of the deal just gives Wal-Mart shoppers another reason to return to the mega discount retailer, and that should give the store a big push higher going into the all-important holiday shopping season.
Now, technically speaking, we can see that Wal-mart jumped to a new all-time high Monday morning, proving that this stock has the mettle investors crave. I suspect that this new high in Wal-mart shares is a tradable event, and I like the shares here for a momentum trade of at least another 10% over the next four to six weeks.
The motorcycle manufacturer proudly bills itself as "the global leader in fueling personal freedom, self-expression and independence." I like that, and I like what that represents. I also like the steps Harley-Davidson has taken to streamline manufacturing operations in order to react quicker to consumer demand. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal detailed Harley's moves to do this at their production facility in York, Penn.
Increased automation and a leaner, more flexible workforce are likely to give the company efficiency gains that, according to some analysts, will allow it to increase its operating profit margins to nearly 16%. By comparison, the company's operating profit margin in 2009 was just 12.5%. The bottom line here is that Harley no longer requires its plant to be operating at peak production levels to achieve strong profits, and that means more money in shareholders' tanks regardless of normal demand fluctuations.
Technically speaking, Harley-Davidson now trades right below its 50-day moving average. It also remains well below its 200-day moving average. Yet, if this stock can break above its 50-day moving average over the next couple of trading days, I suspect it can pin the throttle well beyond the 200-day moving average on its way to some very nice gains.
Action to Take --> Buy Harley-Davidson at the market price. Set stop-loss at $39.13. Set initial price target at $46.78 for a potential 12% gain in 4-6 weeks.
This article originally appeared on TradingAuthority.com: