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3 Russell 2000 stocks for your January watchlist

Russell 2000 stocks

As investors face another uncertain year in the market, it could be time to look at small- and mid-cap stocks. That means looking at stocks that are listed on the Russell 2000 index. The Russell 2000 index comprises the 2,000 smallest stocks in the Russell 3000 index.  

Historically, these stocks tend to outperform the market at the beginning of a bull market. I found the stocks on this list using MarketBeat's Russell 2000 stocks screener. 

This stock continues to be in style 

Crocs Inc. (NYSE: CROX) manufactures and markets a distinct style of footwear with a mission to "provide comfortable and stylish footwear options for all ages." Revenue and earnings have been climbing steadily since 2021 due, in part, to the company expanding its product mix to include boots, slides, and slippers.  

However, in a story true of many small-cap stocks, CROX stock got ahead of itself. At one point in 2022, the stock was trading over $180 a share. Since then, the stock fell more than 50% at one point. But recent activity suggests the 24% increase in the company's stock price in the last three months may be just the beginning.  

For one thing, the stock is declining while revenue and earnings continue to grow year-over-year. In the first three quarters of 2023, revenue was up 14%, and earnings were up 13%.  

Analysts give the stock a consensus Strong Buy rating. Since December 12, 2023, the Crocs analyst ratings on MarketBeat show that Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) initiated coverage with a Buy rating, and two other analysts increased their price target on the stock.  

An attractive value in the energy sector 

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NASDAQ: CHK) looks like an attractive value in the energy sector at a time when energy prices are expected to rise. Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners in 2023. A key reason was that the anticipated rise in the price of crude oil didn't materialize as expected.  

However, there are a couple of reasons to believe that energy prices will be on the rise. First, geopolitical events – particularly in the Middle East- are bullish for a rise in oil prices. Second, the anticipation of interest rate cuts at some point in 2024 would also be a catalyst for higher oil prices.  

With that in mind, it's noteworthy that CHK stock is down "only" 9% in the last 12 months when "big oil" stocks are down more. For example, Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) is down 17%, and ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) is down 11%. 

Better still, the analyst ratings for Chesapeake Energy give the stock a consensus Buy rating with a price target that shows a 28% upside, which is consistent with other oil stocks.  

The run may just be starting for this tasty stock 

Performance Food Group Company (NYSE: PFGC) is a leader in the growing food-away-from-home sector. This group includes companies that make food produced and consumed anywhere that's not considered home.  

In 2022, rising inflation made it more cost-effective for consumers to prepare food at home. In 2023, the pendulum swung back in favor of consumers eating out or, more significantly, having food delivered to their homes or offices.  

One reason is that more people are returning to the office for some or most of the time. Another factor is that food inflation remains sticky. Prices on some items have plateaued or are slightly lower. However, the overall price consumers pay at the store remains high, especially as layoffs begin taking hold in the United States.  

The company has continued to increase revenue and earnings year-over-year for the last three quarters. The Performance Food Group analyst ratings on MarketBeat give the stock a Moderate Buy rating. They only give the stock a 7.5% upside.  

However, at this point, PFGC is trading significantly higher than its 50- and 200-day simple moving averages. You may want to wait for a pullback before taking a position.  

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