Stocks we love

It's almost Valentine's Day and you're about to fall head over heels for Guess and four other stock sweethearts. We did.

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- If Cupid has you thinking about finally making a long-term commitment, then we've got the stock picks for you.

For the past five years, we've run stock screens around Valentine's Day to identify companies with histories of healthy earnings and sales growth that are expected to keep growing.

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We also look for reasonable valuations and clean balance sheets. Lots of cash and little debt are just so romantic.

And our past picks have yielded stocks worth holding onto. They've turned out much better than those awful blind dates your friends used to set up for you.

The five stocks we flirted with in 2002 are up 63 percent, on average, since we chose them, compared to a 27 percent gain for the S&P 500 during the same time frame.

Our sweet picks from 2003 have gained an average of 41 percent. That has underperformed the 70 percent gain in the benchmark index during the same time frame though.

The ones that made us blush in 2004 and 2005 are up 19 percent, compared to a gain of 27 percent in the S&P 500 since February 2004 and 20 percent gain since 2005. And the average increase for last year's stock darlings, which included Apple (Charts) and retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (Charts), is 28 percent, double the 14 percent increase of the S&P 500 during the past year.

So we've decided to put our portfolio matchmaking skills to the test once again.

Forty-nine stocks made it through our initial selection process and we decided to focus on five that represent a nice assortment of investment sweetness, heart-shaped box not included: Altera (Charts), Goldcorp (Charts), Guess? (Charts), Kohl's (Charts) and Schlumberger (Charts).