More About the Market's 10 Best Stocks

When fellow Fool Tim Hanson once again reported on the market's 10 best stocks over the past decade, he found that they were obscure, ignored, and small.

All of that is still true. But I'm writing today to add to his list of observations.

What else I can tell you
First, the majority of these multibaggers were expensive by the numbers. Second, all but two were growing revenue by double digits.

Let's look at the numbers.

Company

Return, 1997-2006

1997 Revenue Growth

1997 Average P/E

Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS  )

25,538%

21.1%

28.8

Chico's FAS

8,773%

17.6%

20.9

American Eagle

7,884%

24.3%

28.1

Daktronics

7,328%

17.2%

21.0

Celgene (Nasdaq: CELG  )

6,118%

27.3%

N/A

4 Kids Entertainment

5,447%

45.0%

N/A

NVR (AMEX: NVR  )

4,871%

10.3%

9.4

ComtechTelecommunications

4,653%

18.3%

24.0

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  )

4,082%

7.5%

N/A

Frontier Oil

3,616%

(1.8%)

32.6

Data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Where's the cheap?
Of all of the stocks on this list, the only one that might be rightly called a "value stock" is homebuilder NVR. But even that's arguable when you look at NVR relative to its peers. While NVR traded for nearly four times its tangible book value in 1997, Ryland Group (NYSE: RYL  ) and Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL  ) were trading for just 0.8 and 2.1 times book value, respectively. So if you wanted to buy shares of a homebuilder, you had to pay up for NVR's potential.

And while Best Buy had a rough 1997, with negative earnings and low sales growth, let me tell you about 1998. That year, Best Buy sold for roughly 60 times earnings. Why? Because it was (and is) a rapidly growing company. In 1998, sales growth would climb above 20% and remain there through the end of 2001. Today, Best Buy is still expanding revenue in the teens as aging competitors such as Radio Shack (NYSE: RSH  ) struggle for single-digit gains.

See, outrageous sales growth, in my opinion, was the driving force behind most of the best stocks of the past decade.

Fortunes in the making
The lesson? Cheap stocks are great. Just don't overemphasize the numbers to the point of passing on great businesses with great prospects.

We certainly don't do that at Rule Breakers. We're willing to pay up for growth, because we know that the stock price that matters most is the price a decade hence. If you'd like to join us and learn more about our strategy and specific recommendations, check out Rule Breakers free for 30 days. You're under no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Best Buy and American Eagle are Stock Advisor picks. Daktronics is a former Stock Advisor pick. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel on Wall Street.


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