Can the First Half's Big Winners Stay Strong?

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As the first half of 2012 draws to a close, many investors are looking back on what has been a tumultuous start to the year. The S&P 500 began the time period with a solid 10.3% gain in the first three months, leading many to think that a broad and robust recovery was underway.
However, the most recent quarter has been much less kind to markets, as the key benchmark finished several percentage points in the red for Q2, leading the S&P 500 to a roughly 6% gain for the first half of the year.
While 6% is nothing to sneeze at — especially considering the incredible weakness in a number of emerging markets and developed nations around the globe — a few stocks have managed to trounce this figure to start the year (see Five ETFs to Buy in 2012).
In fact, a handful of stocks in the S&P 500 have surged by more than 50% already this year including the following companies:
Lennar Corp (LEN - Analyst Report)
Regions Financial (RF - Analyst Report)
Pulte Group (PHM - Analyst Report)
Expedia (EXPE - Analyst Report)
TripAdvisor (TRIP - Snapshot Report)
Sears Holdings (SHLD - Analyst Report)
While as a group there isn’t much continuity, there are a few trends that investors can glean from these outperformers. Clearly, some in the housing space — LEN and PHM — have seen a rebound in activity in that crucial market, while the online travel space seems be heating up as well (as represented by EXPE and TRIP).
Meanwhile, RF has bucked the uncertain trend in financials, while Sears — which currently has a Zacks Rank of 1 or ‘Strong Buy’ — has undoubtedly been assisted by its collapse in late 2011, which made the beginning of January the perfect time to get in on this retailer for the short-term (see Can Retail ETFs Surge in 2012?).
Do you think any company in this group can keep up their market-beating performance in the second half of the year?
If not, what sector or stock is your pick for the rest of 2012?

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Eric Dutram is the ETF Strategist for Zacks Investment Research.

This article originally appeared at Reprinted with permission. 
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