WFM, D, VLO Top 10 Hot Stocks to Watch Today

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Hot stocks to watch today: Almost half of Standard & Poor's 500 companies have reported second-quarter earnings and results so far have impressed.

Some 69% of companies have posted better-than-expected numbers. As a result, industry experts are more upbeat than they were when reports started coming out.

Analysts are now projecting Q2 earnings growth will come in at 6.5%. That's up from 5.4% a week ago and 4.9% at the start of earnings season, according to FactSet.

Today could ignite even more optimism with earnings from some key industry players...

10 Hot Stocks to Watch Today on Earnings Releases

WFMHot Stocks to Watch No. 1: Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFM) is also scheduled to post quarterly results today after the close. The specialty natural foods grocer is expected to post fiscal Q3 earnings per share (EPS) of $0.39. Whisper numbers have EPS coming in at $0.40. Whole Foods disappointed last quarter with soft earnings and a lackluster outlook, causing shares to slump 20%. The stock has had trouble as the natural/organic food space is crowed and competition is fierce.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 2: Dominion Resources Inc. (NYSE: D) is expected to report Q2 EPS of $0.62 on revenue of $2.85 billion. That would match EPS numbers in the same quarter a year ago, but below EPS of $1.04 in the previous quarter. The Virginia-based utility could surprise to the upside. Utility stocks surged 15.8% in the first half of 2014. Dominion shares are up 9% year to date.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 3: Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) will release Q2 earnings before the open. Expectations are for the San Antonio, Texas-based company, one of the largest independent refining and marketing companies in the United States, to report EPS of $1.21 on revenue of $28.57 billion. Net income of $624.5 million will likely have risen 32.7% year over year (YOY) from $470.5 million in 2QFY13. Whisper numbers have VLO reporting EPS of $1.25. In the past eight quarters, VLO's stock price has increased by 2.35% one day after its quarterly results.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 4: American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT) is scheduled to release Q2 earnings Wednesday morning. Expectations are for the real estate operator of wireless and broadcast communications to post earnings per share of $0.54 on revenue of $99.15 million. That would be up from $0.24 in the same period a year ago and a penny better than the previous quarter. AMT hit an all-time high of $93.20 last week.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 5: Ballard Power Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BLDP) is on tap to post Q2 numbers today at a time not specified. The fuel cell player disappointed with Q1 numbers, but the microcap looks poised to impress this quarter. While no EPS estimates are available, BLDP's year-to-date performance has been striking. Shares are up a whopping 192.41% since the start of the year and the sector has been red hot. Rival Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) ignited industry interest in January with a FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) deal. Tuesday, PLUG soared some 11% after Wal-Mart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) expanded an existing contract with the N.Y.-based company.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 6: MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) is expected to post EPS of $1.41 when the insurance behemoth reports Q2 numbers after Wednesday's close. That would be $0.03 below the EPS reported in the year-ago quarter. In the previous quarter, MET disappointed with EPS of $1.37, a 7% year-over-year decrease.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 7: Philips 66 (NYSE: PSX) is scheduled to report Q2 EPS of $1.71 before the open. That would be up handsomely from EPS of $1.50 in the same period a year ago. A Warren Buffett holding, representing 0.7% of the legendary investor's portfolio, Citigroup recently hiked its price target on the shale boom play to $88 from $84.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 8: Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) is on tap to report Q2 earnings before the open. The tech solutions company is expected to report EPS of $0.46. First quarter earnings came in at $0.42, beating consensus estimates by $0.03, and up 15% YOY. Q1 revenue, meanwhile, rose 3% to 937 million. Based on belief the company will grow earnings and revenue, Brean Capital upgraded PBI to "Buy" from "Hold" on Monday.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 9: Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) is scheduled to post Q2 EPS of $0.67 this morning, a penny better than the same quarter a year ago. One of the biggest U.S. power companies, Southern is set to announce plans by the end of the year to build more nuclear reactors. That would make SO the first company to pursue new reactors since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans earlier this year to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Nuclear reactors produce almost no carbon emissions.

Hot Stocks to Watch No. 10: Western Digital Corp. (Nasdaq: WDC) will report quarterly numbers after the close. Earnings are usually a market-moving event for the hard disk drive maker. Expectations are for WDC to post EPS of $1.74. Amid recent favorable earnings estimate revisions, typically a precursor of an earnings beat, the EPS whisper number is $1.80. Earlier this month, Robert Baird boosted its rating on WDC to "Outperform" from "Neutral" and hiked its price target to $120 from $95. Deutsche Bank also recently raised its price target on WDC to $118 from $100. Shares were last trading at $100.85, up 20.20% year to date.

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