7 Top Stocks We're Excited About Headed Into 2017

By Brian Feroldi, Sean Williams, Dan Caplinger, Tyler Crowe, Daniel Miller, Matthew DiLallo, and Steve Symington Markets Fool.com

The new year is rapidly approaching, which means it's a great time to give your portfolio a fresh look. To help you find a few stocks that could go on to be big winners in 2017, we asked a team of our Motley Fool contributors to highlight one of their top ideas. Read on to see why they choose Chuy's Holdings(NASDAQ: CHUY),US Silica Holdings(NYSE: SLCA),EOG Resources(NYSE: EOG),Exelixis(NASDAQ: EXEL), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN),Mobileye(NYSE: MBLY),andUniversal Display(NASDAQ: OLED).

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Image source: Getty Images.

Spice up your portfolio with this hot stock

Dan Caplinger (Chuy's): One stock I've been excited about ever since it went public in 2012 is Chuy's Holdings, the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant chain. I have a special place in my heart for Chuy's from my time in Austin, but I'll admit that I was skeptical about its ability to translate the Tex-Mex concept to areas outside the Lone Star State. That changed when I visited a Chuy's restaurant in the D.C. area a couple months ago and found it to be just as faithful to the company's roots as its original Barton Springs location.

Looking forward to 2017, Chuy's has some big plans that could take the stock to the next level. In its quarterly conference call in November, CEO Steven Hislop confirmed that Chuy's will be looking to add locations in Chicago, Denver, and southern Florida. All three markets will be brand-new for Chuy's and will extend the northwestern, northern, and southeastern boundaries of the company's current restaurant network. Although the moves won't make Chuy's entirely a national chain, they will get it one step closer to having a nationwide presence. Even as the restaurant industry has remained competitive, Chuy's has proven its staying power in the space, and further expansion should make investors excited about the stock in 2017 and beyond.

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The real part of the oil industry ready to pop

Tyler Crowe(US Silica Holdings): One industry that's looking rather intriguing as we head into 2017 is sand suppliers for the hydraulic fracturing business. Specifically, I'm looking at U.S. Silica Holdings. While we haven't seen a full-fledged recovery yet, there are some underlying trends really working in this industry's favor that could see them get back to pre-oil price crash levels of sand demand.

The first is the changing dynamics of the hydraulic fracturing business. When fracking took off at first, many producers were just enamored with the idea that this new source of production could be modestly profitable with oil north of $100 a barrel, so there wasn't a whole lot of optimization going on.

Today, though, through lots of testing and process iterations, producers have found they get better well economics when shale wells are drilled with longer horizontal sections. In addition, the amount of fracking stages per foot of horizontal well has increased, and the amount of sand per stage is increasing. As this chart from fellow frack-sand supplier Emerge Energy Services shows, these trends have caused total sand per well across various shale basins to grow 2 to 4 times in the past three years.

Image source: Emerge Energy Services investor presentation.

The reason this is important is that shale drilling activity in the U.S. doesn't need to get back to pre-crash levels for frack-sand players to cash in on a modest rebound. Of the companies in this industry, US Silica is in the best position to take advantage, as it has the best balance sheet and the ability to invest in growth much more so than its more indebted peers.

There has been some modest optimism in the oil patch as we look at 2017, and US Silica has the opportunity to take advantage of this optimism better that most others.

Hitting the accelerator

Matt DiLallo (EOG Resources): The oil market has endured two brutal years. However, there's reason to be optimistic that 2017 will be much better. Not only has demand continued to grow, but supplies are also coming down sharply. That should push oil prices higher next year.

That said, EOG Resources doesn't need higher oil prices to thrive. The leading shale producer has among the lowest costs in the industry, with a drilling breakeven point of just $30 per barrel. Because of that, the company can deliver substantial production growth at current oil prices, with even faster growth as prices rise.

Image source: Getty Images.

EOG Resources recently released an updated growth outlook through 2020. That forecast sees the company delivering 15% compound annual oil production growth at $50 oil, with the capacity to ramp up to a 25% compound annual growth rate at $60 oil. Further, it can achieve that growth and pay the dividend while living within cash flow.

There's ample upside to that plan. In fact, just last quarter the company raised its guidance from an initial outlook for 10%-20% compound annual oil production growth through 2020 up to the current 15%-25% rate thanks to continued efficiency gains. That's noteworthy, because the company had just provided the initial outlook the prior quarter. Further, because EOG Resources has an expanding inventory of the low-cost, high-return wells, it can grow even faster should oil prices rise above current estimates.

There's a lot to be excited about EOG Resources as we head into 2017.

Multiple catalysts ahead

Brian Feroldi(Regeneron Pharmaceuticals): 2016 was all set up to be another banner year for biotech giant Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but it turned out to be quite a bust instead. The company announced two majorclinicalsetbacks during the year, and the FDA also rejected its submission for a potential new blockbuster drug. To add insult to injury, sales of the company's top-selling drug are starting to slow, and the biotech sector in general sold off during the year. Add it all up, and Regeneron's shares have fallen more than 25% since January.

Despite all the misery, I'm quite excited to be a shareholder heading into 2017, as the company has multiple catalysts upcoming that could help get the stock moving again.

Image source: Getty Images.

First, the FDA will be issuing a ruling on Regeneron and Sanofi's new atopic dermatitis drugDupixentin late March. Many analysts believe that this drug could turn into a megablockbuster if it gets the green light, so the thumbs-up from regulators will probably send shares soaring.

Second, sales of Regeneron and Sanofi's new cholesterol-busting drug Praluent are set to take off in 2017. The reason is that the company is set to report data from its Odyssey Outcomes trial in late 2017, which could show that Praluent lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. If that data looks good, then sales will likely explode.

Third, RegeneronandSanofi are working on fixing the manufacturing issues that caused the FDA to reject their resubmission of sarilumab. Once that's behind, then the company should be ready to submit the drug for review again.

In total, Regeneron offers investors plenty of reasons to remain optimistic, especially at today's depressed share price. That's why I'm excited as ever to be ashareholderof this top-notch biotech.

King of autonomous-driving technology

Daniel Miller(Mobileye): It seems as if every day there's a new autonomous-vehicle program development. For example, Google's self-driving-vehicle project just became its own company, called Waymo, and it will exist under Google's parent company, Alphabet. These developments are happening at a breakneck pace, and if there's anything we've learned in the automotive industry this year, it's that driverless vehicles aren't going to be science fiction for much longer.

That's great news for Mobileye, a technological leader that supplies monocular camera-based vehicle vision systems for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Unlike most companies doing business in the capital-intensive automotive industry, Mobileye is a breath of fresh air, with its asset-light and far less capital-intensive business model. That's evidenced by its roughly 75% gross margin and 34% pre-tax operating margin through the first nine months of 2016.

Don't take it from me. Here's Richard Hilgert, senior equity analyst for Morningstar: "We forecast that demand for active safety and ADAS vehicle features will drive Mobileye average annual revenue growth of 20% for the next 10 years."

MBLY data by YCharts

Mobileye is a cutting-edge company staring at one of the biggest growth stories to hit the automotive industry in decades. It's likely to produce years of strong top-line growth, and with margins as juicy as they are, it's going to be increasingly difficult for investors to ignore Mobileye stock.

The future is bright for this stock

Steve Symington(Universal Display): Shares of Universal Display have fallen more than 20% from an all-time high in early August. But I think the OLED specialist is offering patient investors a perfect opportunity to buy shares before its longer-term growth story truly begins to play out.

After all, that drop came primarily as the company released solid second-quarter 2016 results but reduced its full-year outlook, saying its impending ramp-up in revenue growth would be delayed roughly six months. To blame, according to Universal Display management at the time, was a combination of customers' delays in adopting its latest high-margin OLED emitter materials, and those customers' more efficient use of current OLED materials ahead of their respective expansions in OLED display manufacturing capacity. Even so, lost on the market seems to be that these customers haven't changed their plans to build more products based on Universal Display's flagship phosphorescent OLED technology.

Image source: Getty Images.

Then, Universal Display shares began to climb again last month, as the company reiterated its full-year guidance.

"[W]hile our revenue growth expectations have been delayed until 2017, this year has continued to be a meaningful year to build and prepare for that future growth," said Universal Display CFO Sid Rosenblatt. "Leading panel makers are building capacity for the next wave of high-volume OLED production to begin ramping next year, OEMs are building new OLED product road maps, and we are building our infrastructure to meet the growing needs of our expanding customer base."

Sure enough, shares popped again the following week, after news that iPhone display supplier Japan Display was in talks to receive financing to shift its manufacturing lines to mass-produce OLED displays instead of LCDs. And multiple analysts subsequently weighed in with supply-chain sources stating that Apple(NASDAQ: AAPL) is on course to introduce its first OLED smartphone late next year -- earlier than the initial 2018 timeline many industry watchers had anticipated. Both moves would reaffirm years of speculation that Apple, in particular, is working on expanding its use of OLED from "just" its Apple Watch to its most popular iPhone and iPad lines.

With shares still down significantly from its highs this year, and as this process begins to unfold next year, I think long-term investors in Universal Display are poised to enjoy explosive returns.

POW, to the moon?

Sean Williams (Exelixis): Call it a complete homer pick since I've owned it for a few years, but cancer-drug developer Exelixisis the stock I'm excited about as we enter a new year.

From peak to trough, Exelixis essentially quintupled in 2016, but it could still have plenty left in the tank, depending on the results of the Celestial study, which we'll have at some point in 2017. Celestial is the company's pivotal phase 3 trial examining whether Cabometyx can provide a statistically significant improvement in median overall survival as a second-line treatment in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Celestial has two key hurdles (planned interim analyses) to clear before its results are reported. The first planned interim analysis (50% of events occurred) leaped over the bar in September, when the independent data-monitoring committee suggested the trial continue as planned. The IDMC would only consider stopping a trial if safety is an issue, or if the primary endpoint wouldn't be met. That the IDMC is letting the trial continue suggests that Cabometyx at least has a shot at meeting its primary endpoint and is generally safe compared with the placebo. The second planned interim analysis is set for when 75% of events (disease progression or death) have occurred.

The global liver cancer market is worth about $700 million, and it could grow 7% to 15% annually through 2020, according to Research and Markets. If Cabometyx can net even 10% to 20% of that, it could be huge.

This doesn't even mention the fact that Cabometyx delivered a trifecta of efficacy in second-line renal-cell carcinoma (RCC) when it was approved. Cabometyx wound up generating a statistically significant improvement in median overall survival, progression-free survival, and objective response rate. It's also delivered strong efficacy in first-line advanced RCC that could lead to a label expansion.

If Cabometyx can succeed in HCC, it could open the door for label-expansion opportunities, would probably entice cancer immunotherapy drug developers to consider partnering with Exelixis, and could make Exelixis an attractive takeover target, with Cabometyx probably having $1 billion, or more, in peak sales potential.I'm excited for what 2017 might bring for Exelixis.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Brian Feroldi owns shares of Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and Universal Display. Dan Caplinger owns shares of Alphabet (C shares) and Apple. Daniel Miller has no position in any stocks mentioned. Matt DiLallo owns shares of Apple. Matt DiLallo has the following options: long January 2018 $85 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $90 calls on Apple. Sean Williams owns shares of Exelixis. Steve Symington owns shares of Apple and Universal Display. Tyler Crowe owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, Chuy's Holdings, and Exelixis. The Motley Fool owns shares of EOG Resources and has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple, short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple, and short January 2017 $30 puts on Chuy's Holdings. The Motley Fool recommends Universal Display. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.