Culled from thousands of pages of 2012 outlook reports, Biriniyi Associates identified 13 stocks that have been the most recommended by the biggest banks, brokerages and research shops.
Topping the list with eight recommendations is defense contractor and Dow component United Technologies .
Of the thirteen “Most Mentioned” names for 2012, only Procter & Gamble and Union Pacific are also currently recommended in Birinyi’s “Conservative” or “Growth” portfolios.
In 2011, only IBM had that distinction, gaining 27.42 percent making it the best performing stock in the group that year.
But, like gymnastics, the annual exercise of identifying which stocks are most likely to outperform in 2012 is an art best practiced in a padded room.
Consider this: the most frequently mentioned stock last year was Microsoft , down 4.52 percent for the year on a total return basis and the 7th worst performing stock in the Dow 30.
And as a group, the nine most recommended stocks in 2011 also underperformed but, by a smaller margin returning 1.49 percent, versus 2.11 percent for the benchmark S&P 500.
This year's top pick, United Technologies, was no star performer last year either. It was down almost 5 percent on a total return basis.
Bottom line: You may think that you have the stock picking routine down pat, but perfect “10s” are hard to find. Investor beware.