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Europe’s best stocks this quarter

Missed the rally? Europe’s best stocks this quarter

An employee talks on the phone as he views trading screens at the offices of Panmure Gordon and Co.
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With just a few hours left of the first trading quarter of 2015, European stocks have bolted out of the starting blocks with a gain of around 17 percent year-to-date for the Euro Stoxx 600 index.

This is the best quarterly percentage gain since the third quarter of 2009, when equities stocks were rebounding fiercely from the global financial crash. It's also the best first-quarter gain since 1998.

Read More Why US stocks may start beating Europe's market

Analysts are unanimous in believing that the extra liquidity provided by the European Central Bank (ECB) has aided these gains, along with better-than-expected economic data. Senior Analyst Laith Khalaf at Hargreaves Lansdown told CNBC via email that valuations have also been supportive for a "relatively unloved region which has been written off as a basket case by many."

And there could be more gains on the way, according to Steve Miley, a technical strategist at, who sees further upside into the second quarter after the European benchmark resisted a deeper correct late last year.

Read More US investors hungry for European stocks: CFO

Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG Markets, is equally positive. "We've seen big gains in stocks over the past two months, but there is a lot more to come," he told CNBC via email.

By CNBC's Matt Clinch, posted March 31, 2015.

Azimut Holding (circa 47% gain)

Jose Luis Pelaez | Blend Images | Getty Images

The asset management company, based in Milan, received the backing of Goldman Sachs, which put the company on its "conviction buy" list. It is expected to be positively affected by quantitative easing by the European Central Bank (ECB).

It also started a reorganization process in the quarter, but signaled that net profit slipped in its 2014 results. Genmab, a Denmark-based biotechnology company, has also seen similar gains during the quarter.

Airbus Group (circa 48% gain)

Source: Airbus

Stocks saw some pressure after the GermanWings aircrash last week, but the multinational aerospace and defense corporation has seen a stellar rally this quarter.

Registered in the Netherlands and headquartered in Toulouse, the company announced in January that its new orders for 2014 edged above rival Boeing's.

In February, Zafar Khan and Neetika Gupta, two analysts at Societe Generale, upgraded their target price on the firm explaining that they were "particularly encouraged" by its guidance on future free cash flow.

Banca Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna (circa 48% gain)

Alessia Pierdomenico | Bloomberg | Getty Images

An Italian banking group based in Modena, shares in the company have rallied significantly on talk of a merger or "consolidation" in the sector.

Peugeot (circa 54% gain)

Jens Schlueter | Getty Images

The French carmaker announced a rise in 2014 sales during the quarter, and highlighted that China has become its largest market. This comes after a capital tie-up with China's Dongfeng Motor last year.

There have been local media reports suggesting that Fiat Chrysler was talking to Peugeot about a possible merger, although this has been denied. Peugeot has also been seen by some as a clear winner from European quantitative easing and the weaker euro.

Altice (circa 55% gain)

Ivan Guilbert | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Altice is a multinational cable and telecommunications company, spearheaded by tycoon Patrick Drahi. The holding company has seen some major deals in the past 12 months.

It has still to fully complete its transaction for the Portuguese assets of Brazil's Grupo Oi and is in final agreements with Vivendi regarding the acquisition of a stake in Numericable-SFR, a French cable operator.

Investors have cheered the dealmaking and Nomura upgraded its price target on the firm just last week.

Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica (circa 57% gain)

Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A Spanish manufacturing company, Gamesa is principally involved in wind turbines and wind farms. The company has won contacts in Brazil and also posted a doubling of net profit for last year, compared to the year before.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (circa 59% gain)

2015 Chrysler 200 models move down the production line at the company's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Jeff Kowalsky | Bloomberg | Getty Images

There's been talk of a merger with Peugeot or Volkswagen for the automaker, and reports that it could sell more than 10 percent of its Ferrari subsidiary.

But there's also been a promising rise in European sales for the firm and price target upgrades by several analysts at JPMorgan and Exane BNP Paribas.

Outokumpu (circa 59% gain)

Henrik Kettunen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Outokumpu is a group of companies headquartered in Espoo, Finland, which produce stainless steel alloys. A slew of analysts have made favorable price target upgrades on the firm and it highlighted a "turnaround to profitability" in its latest earnings report in February.

Banca Popolare di Milano (circa 75% gain)


SocGen analyst Carlo Tommaselli believes the Italian cooperative bank is at the center of a potential "consolidation wave."

"(Banca Popolare di Milano) will likely play an active role in the potential forthcoming consolidation should the cooperative banks decree be approved," he said in a note on March 5.

Big things are happening in the Italian banking space, which will also likely get a boost from the extra cash provided by the European Central Bank.

Abengoa (circa 85% gain)


A Spanish multinational corporation - with interests in energy, telecommunications, transportation, and the environment - Abengoa has seen a bigger percentage gain than any other company on the Euro Stoxx 600 index. It sealed a joint venture with U.S. firm EIG and launched a new solar plant in South Africa.

Analysts love the stock, with many saying it has good growth potential and the EIG deal is expected to boost earnings.