5 Top Tweeners

If you've ever sought to get seriously rich from stocks, then you've owned a tweener.

Neither an up-and-coming superstar nor a dominant veteran, tweeners are poised precariously in between. They're not as hot as they once were, and they're vulnerable both to young upstarts and old stalwarts. But they've honed their skills enough to remain a force to be reckoned with.

The stock market has plenty of tweeners. They'll either create billion-dollar fortunes as they come to dominate industries, as Cisco and Microsoft have, or they'll be destroyed in the process, as Gateway almost was. That's the problem -- investing in tweeners can be dangerous and exceptionally profitable. By picking his winners well, David Gardner produced nine years of 20% average returns hunting for misunderstood multibaggers in the making. His team at Motley Fool Rule Breakers continues the tradition today.

Let's have the list
You, too, can join in the effort, thanks to Motley Fool CAPS. Each week, we'll use the database to find three-star stocks that are expected to boost earnings by at least 15% annually over the next five years. Here are the latest condenders:

Company

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

5-Year Growth Estimate

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

***

34.4%

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)

***

21.2%

Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA)

***

19.9%

Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN)

***

24.3%

Automatic Data Processing (NYSE:ADP)

***

15.0%

Sources: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance.

Bear in mind that this isn't a list of recommendations -- merely candidates for further research.

At first, I was tempted to go with Google. The would-be ad king I've playfully referred to as DoubleGoo now has the go-ahead from the Feds to combine with DoubleClick. The deal will boost its already massive lead over Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) and others in search ads and online video -- the latter thanks to the underpaid rabble-rousers at YouTube.

Yet this could be just the beginning. With roughly $15 billion in trailing revenue, Google controls less than 3% of the $600 billion to $800 billion in annual global advertising dollars. Want to bet it's going to stay that way?

Not fresh, but not stale, either
I wouldn't. But Google doesn't offer much of a bargain, either. Along with the Big G comes the Big V: volatility.

That's the risk you take when investing in high-growth stocks. The good news? The Big V can also bring you the Big P, as in profits, if you have the guts to buy on dips. That's the idea my Foolish colleague Bill Barker has for Panera Bread, a fast-casual restaurateur that was once considered the next Starbucks.

Those days have come and gone, I think. But Bill still sees a value in Panera. Here's how he put recently it in re-recommending the stock to subscribers of Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt:

[Panera] has the historical high returns on capital that make aggressive expansion rational, and a sterling balance sheet and solid free cash flow mean it's not dependent on the markets to raise the capital to fund that growth.

And growth it does have. Analysts expect Panera to expand its bottom line by almost 20% a year over the next five, resulting in what I consider to be a very reasonable 1.01 PEG ratio.

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

See you back here next week for five more top tweeners. Happy New Year!


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