High-Priced Stocks Worth Every Penny

Penny stocks are one way to double your money, though it's fraught with risk, but there are equally shiny opportunities trading at the other end of the price spectrum, too. I call 'em "three-digit stocks," yet if they're anything like Berkshire Hathaway they can trade in the four-, five-, and six-digit range, too.

penny stock might not be a good buy simply because it's cheap, and a three-digit stock shouldn't scare you away just because it carries a hefty price tag. Handsome is as handsome does. Let's check in with the Motley Fool CAPS community to see which of the high-priced stocks below earn the greatest confidence from our investor-intelligence database:

Stock

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

3-Digit Price

Return on Capital, TTM

Bio-Rad Laboratories (NYSE: BIO  )

*****

$115.90

7.8%

Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN  )

**

$463.19

25.6%

salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM  )

*

$127.87

3.7%

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's; Motley Fool CAPS.

But just because these stocks are purring is no reason to jump into them blindly. Catching a tiger by the tail -- or a knife falling from on high -- can end up leaving you scratched and bleeding. That's why we recommend you use this list as a launch pad for your own research and analysis.

Highfalutin' honeys
Although it's been around for over 50 years, Bio-Rad Laboratories is new to the public markets, going public last September and rising around 33% since. It operates in two industry segments -- life sciences, where it competes against the likes of Thermo Fisher Scientific, and clinical diagnostics, where Immucor (Nasdaq: IMMU  ) and Abbot Labs (NYSE: ABT  ) are two of its larger and better known rivals -- with more than two-thirds of its revenues coming from international sources.

Even as its stock is off to a good start, there are some clouds looming on the horizon, as it is under investigation for bribing foreign officials and admits it very well may have committed those acts.

That's all part of a broad, far-reaching probe by the Justice Department and the SEC with German carmaker Daimler already pleading guilty to bribing officials in 22 countries and paying almost $200 million in fines. Alcatel-Lucent has also paid $137 million to settle the charges, and pharmaceutical giant Merck is under investigation by both the Justice Department and the SEC for allegedly violating the act.

The CAPS community is quite supportive, though, with all the All-Stars rating it unanimously believing it will outperform the market, and 96% of the broader community backing its success. But CAPS is more than what some top Foolish investors think, so add your own opinion to the Bio-Rad Laboratories CAPS page and tell us if you believe this is a radical new opportunity.

No-fly zone
Online travel agent Priceline.com has confounded analysts and investors alike. During the depths of the recession, when airlines and hotels were under the gun and it seemed travel was a lost cause, Priceline shined because those industries dumped huge amounts of inventory on it, which it parlayed into big profits.

The new challenge for Priceline and rivals Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE  ) and Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW  ) is whether they can overcome the latest turmoil. Soaring oil prices, Middle East unrest, and now a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan -- not to mention the possibility a major nuclear catastrophe in the making -- means travel plans could be disrupted everywhere.

I've been doubtful about Priceline's ability before, but no more. As airlines raise fares to meet higher expenses, travelers become more reluctant to go to areas where it's unsure who is in charge, and in a country ravaged by natural and man-made disasters, airlines and hotels will once again be saddled with inventory they'll need to unload. That will play into Priceline's strengths.

Even with its stock at such lofty valuations, CAPS member livinglearning doesn't see how anyone can bet against the leading online travel agent:

I'm just not sure how anyone can bet against this company. They have proven themselves over and over again even when the "experts" were doubting them. I think some are still doubting them. That's just fine with me as the stock is now $460/share. They have great management and all they do is beat expectations year in and year out.

You can add Priceline to the Fool's free portfolio tracker and can book your opinion on the Priceline.com CAPS page.

Triple-digit titans
While Priceline does look expensive on certain metrics compared to its competition, salesforce.com makes it look like a bargain basement discard. Its P/E ratio is north of 260, even after the business services provider has fallen 15% from its 52-week high. CAPS member Revler1082, though, thinks whether something is expensive is relative and a high price can sometimes be justified:

I don't mind paying a premium for a company that I think deserves it. I've bought some stocks near their 52 week highs. Some worked out, some didn't, but I always tried to validate my decisions by making sure that the valuation for the company hadn't gone off the charts.

Certainly you can't judge salesforce's valuation by comparing it to a business in a completely different industry, but circaclown says that while it may be a good company, it's "just not priced right."

Add the software specialist to your watchlist and let us know on the Salesforce.com CAPS page whether this company is priced to sell.

Count to 10
These three-digit stocks might be on their way to even higher valuations. That's why it pays to start your own research in Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made, all from a stock's CAPS page.

Berkshire Hathaway and Thermo Fisher Scientific are Motley Fool Inside Value choices. Salesforce.com is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Berkshire Hathaway and priceline.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Abbott Laboratoresi, and Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool Alpha owns shares of Abbott Laboratories. 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.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 14, 2011, at 12:53 PM, nattyzed wrote:

    Bio-Rad is not new to public markets nor did they just IPO. Perhaps you are confused with the fact they moved from the AMEX to the NYSE in 2008?? Anyway, your miss of that basic fact about the company calls into question the reliability of the rest of your comments. Reader beware.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2011, at 12:21 PM, naive007 wrote:

    Also note..... immucor's symbol is BLUD, and not IMMU as this is immunomedics.

    Come on, do some research. Dont make us out to be real Fools.

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