Tuesday's Top 5 Growth Winners

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

  1. Hysterical laughter.
  2. Sudden nausea.

Pity them, Fool.

How many times did retailer Chico's FAS (NYSE: CHS  ) touch a new 52-week high on its way to becoming one of the 10 best stocks of the past decade? Too many to count, of course. (See for yourself.)

Let that be a lesson. Rocket stocks -- companies whose growth and share price are both on the rise -- 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 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 a four-bagger. How I wish I had listened to what Rick was telling me those months ago.

Don't do as I did. Never assume that 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 76,000 pro and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community, we'll seek 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 two of five stars from our CAPS contingent.

Here are today's candidates for your consideration:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (5 max)

5-Year Growth Estimate

52-Week Range

Interactive Intelligence (NASDAQ:ININ)

$28.26

****

34%

$13.50-$29.23

TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO)

$7.86

**

29.7%

$5.05-$7.98

Telefonica (NYSE:TEF)

$103.11

*****

23.8%

$59.80-$103.50

Kirby (NYSE:KEX)

$48.62

****

19.4%

$33.06-$48.80

Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR)

$28.65

****

15.2%

$12.32-$28.96

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

Our mostly small-cap list features some promising though speculative stocks. Yet these tiny titans can create astounding returns if bought before they get discovered.

Witness call-center software specialist Interactive Intelligence. Even though the sector is rife with competition from the likes of Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) and Nortel Networks, Interactive is up more than 55% over the past 52 weeks, easily besting the S&P 500, which has risen a little less than 4% over the same period.

TiVo could also get the nod here for its patent portfolio, which is more valuable today than it was last week. My only concern is that the DVR pioneer may be "diworsifying" -- a turn of phrase first popularized by Peter Lynch to describe firms that spend capital on projects that offer no competitive advantage.

Habla espanol?
I've no such concerns with today's top pick, Telefonica, one of Spain's largest phone companies and a big player in Latin America. Three things strike me about this stock:

  1. Valuation. On a PEG basis, Telefonica at 0.68 trades for almost one-third the industry average of 1.79.
  2. Following. Some of the world's best investors, including Will Danoff of Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX), have been buying shares.
  3. Cash. Free cash flow was up more than 26% from 2005 to 2006. Historically, Telefonica pulls in between 16% and 22% of revenue as FCF. So, if analysts are anywhere near correct with their top-line growth assumptions, there should be plenty more moola at management's disposal in the coming years. Surely enough to fund (or increase) the carrier's meaty 2.4% dividend.

But that's my take. What's yours? Would you buy Telefonica at today's prices? Let us know by signing up for CAPS now. It's 100% free to participate.

I'll be back here tomorrow with more rocket stocks.


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