WSJ’s Top Five Stocks of 2011

Take a look at these stocks you’re probably kicking yourself for not buying earlier this year. Not only have these companies been hotly traded commodities over the past six months, they are also thought to have pretty bright futures, so it may not be too take to get in on the action. Although you missed the gold rush, check out the crazy return on investment these stocks have provided investors amidst one of the choppiest market seasons in recent memory.

1) Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX): Despite the recent uproar the company engendered over its new pricing plan, 2011 has gone without a hitch for one of the hottest stocks on the market. Netflix has netted investors a staggering 57% return in 2011, shooting up in price brackets and market cap from $175 per share in January to today’s latest trade at $276.50. Over the past year Flix’ has more than doubled its 2011 growth, netting gains of 133%. The company currently trades at a P/E of 79.38 with a market cap of $14.63 billion. Don’t be put off by the high P/E, as analysts expect revenues to surge while costs decline as Netflix tries to move customers from its mail-order service to its online streaming plan. One insider thinks the stock could hit $1,000 by 2017.

2) Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG): The company continued its surge forward in 2011, jumping 52.8% in price YTD. Chipotle has flourished over the past year as well, trading up 137% from its price of $134 last July. Analysts and customers continue to love this company, one of the many reasons why its flourish is expected to linger for some time. According to Janney Capital analyst Mark Kalinowski, whose current price target on the firm is $375, its a “top restaurant-stock pick for 2011, with speedy service,” and “higher-quality ingredients” that are keeping diners and investors coming back for more. CMG stock currently trades at a P/E of 54.96 on a market cap of $10.11 billion.

Must Read Feature: Here’s Why Chipotle is a Shareholder’s Dream Stock.

3) Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF): This international mining company has consistently unearthed cash for investors, returning 24.96% in 2011. If you’d have gotten in a full year ago youd’ve stood to made more than 4x as much off of Cliffs as the company has returned 109% since July of 2010. Fundamentals on the stock hint that this company may still be cheap, at a P/E of 9.42 and a market cap of $14.10 Billion. The company recently announced that it would double its dividend payments to 1.2%, and expects a strong second leg of 2011 due to strong mining and natural resources demand in emerging markets.

4) Phillip Morris Intl. (NYSE:PM): Moral judgments aside, the leader in the U.S. tobacco industry has been a solid investment option in 2011, netting shareholders a 14% return YTD, and and 34.30% return in the past 12 months. With a customer base that’s literally addicted to its products, analysts say Morris should continue to bring in droves of cash this year. S&P analyst Esther Kwon says of the company, “We generally like all the tobacco stocks, but Philip Morris is a top pick.” Kwon has a price target of $82/share on the stock (currently at $66). PM is trading at a P/E of 16.32 on a market cap of 118.57B, with a high yield of 3.7%.

5) Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT): The marketer and manufacturer of packaged foods and groceries has kicked of 2011 in excellent fashion, up 11.6% in the first half of the year. The stock is also up a total 21.72% over the past twelve months. Analyst Alexia Howard says Kraft’s best days have yet to come, noting, “The long-awaited turnaround in Kraft’s fortunes may finally be upon us,” and adding it to one of her top food stock picks of the year. KFT stock currently trades at a P/E of 20.32 on a market cap of $61.65 billion.

More from The Cheat Sheet