Wednesday's Rocket Stocks

Ask a cheapskate value investor to buy a stock that's just reached a new 52-week high, and you'll get one of two responses:

  1. Hysterical laughter.
  2. Sudden nausea.

Feel sorry for them, Fool.

How many times has Google touched a 52-week high on its way to yesterday's close of $732.94? Too many to count, of course. Those who panicked at the thought of buying at the top have missed out on a near seven-bagger.

Let that be a lesson. Rocket stocks -- that is, high-growth stocks that are also realizing heavy price appreciation -- are sometimes worth buying.

Rocket stocks, not rocket science
And sometimes they're worth buying in bulk. Think of Baidu.com. My buddy Rick Munarriz recommended China's top search engine to our Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers at $83.37 in October of last year.

I thought he was nuts. I mean it. The stock was both expensive and on a tear. So, I argued against buying it in a January duel here at Fool.com. Now Baidu is nearing a five-bagger. How I wish I had listened to what Rick was telling me all those months ago.

Don't do as I did. Never assume an expensive stock is too expensive. What looks like a cliff could really be base camp on a climb toward the summit of Everest. Each day in this column, with the help of the more than 73,000 pro and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community, we'll seek to find those still climbing.

Our candidates will be found daily in the 52-week high lists at The Wall Street Journal. But few highfliers will make the cut; we're looking for stocks expected to boost net income by at least 15% annually over the next five years and which earn at least three of the maximum five stars from our CAPS contingent.

Here are today's top five for your consideration:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

5-Year Growth Est.

Previous 52-Week Range

Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ:ESLR)

$13.65

***

35.0%

$6.97-$13.69

Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ONXX)

$58.03

***

25.0%

$10.38-$50.49

Clean Harbors (NASDAQ:CLHB)

$53.49

****

20.0%

$40.69-$54.54

Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM)

$37.31

*****

19.2%

$25.05-$37.35

Neogen (NASDAQ:NEOG)

$27.19

*****

18.8%

$12.85-$27.00

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool CAPS.

Unloved growth stock Evergreen Solar interests me for two reasons. First, oil is nearing $100 a barrel. That makes solar much more cost-effective as an alternative fuel and, thereby, solar stocks more appealing, including Evergreen and peers Suntech Power (NYSE: STP  ) and First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) . Second, though just as important, Evergreen had more than $1 billion in long-term contracts as of April. Impressive, no?

Clean up your portfolio
You bet it is. Then again, Evergreen inexplicably failed to provide an update to its backlog in reporting third-quarter earnings last month. I wouldn't buy till management provides new numbers.

But Clean Harbors? That's another story. Third-quarter earnings crushed Wall Street's best guess, while full-year revenue guidance was bumped into the double digits from earlier predictions of 8%-9%. That suggests Clean Harbors is an up-and-coming growth stock.

Mostly, though, I'm impressed that a dividend guy likes this fast mover. Here's a June pitch from Motley Fool Income Investor co-captain Andy Cross, known as TMFOpie in these parts:

Founded by Alan McKim, who is Chairman and CEO, and owns 15% [of the company]. Clean Harbors is one of the largest environmental and hazardous waste service companies in the U.S., providing services to 325 of the Fortune 500. It owns and operates 49 facilities ... Net income positive for past three years. [Return on equity] above 30%. Interest coverage in mid single digits. Annual growth estimates of 20% for [the next] five years, with more than $40-$45 million in owner earnings.

Translation: The numbers work. (So far as Andy is concerned, that is.)

Intrigued? Do your own due diligence, then check in with tens of thousands of other investors at CAPS. If you'd like, add your own commentary. You'll be helping your fellow Fools and testing your ideas at the same time. Click here to get started now; the service is 100% free.

See you back here tomorrow for more rocket stocks.


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