Wednesday'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 has Immucor (Nasdaq: BLUD  ) touched a new 52-week high on its way to becoming one of the market's 10 best stocks of the past decade? Too many to count, of course. Never assume that "rocket stocks" -- high-growth stocks that are also realizing heavy price appreciation -- are too expensive. What looks like a cliff could really be base camp on a climb toward the summit of Everest.

Rocket stocks, not rocket science
Each weekday in this column, we'll enlist the more than 79,000 pro and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community to find stocks that are still climbing. We'll start with The Wall Street Journal's 52-week high lists. But we'll focus our search on stocks expected to boost net income by at least 15% a year for the next five years, and whose CAPS ratings sport at least two of the maximum five stars. 

Here's what we've turned up today:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (5 max)

5-Year Growth Estimate

52-Week Range

Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR)

$27.00

****

87.0%

$14.00-$28.09

Aixtron AG (NASDAQ:AIXG)

$14.45

****

32.5%

$4.54-$14.97

Peerless Manufacturing (NASDAQ:PMFG)

$40.15

*****

25.0%

$11.48-$41.64

Middleby (NASDAQ:MIDD)

$75.91

*****

18.5%

$49.38-$78.94

MedcoHealth Solutions (NYSE:MHS)

$103.47

*****

17.4%

$52.52-$105.00

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 they're bought before the market discovers them. Witness German semiconductor equipment supplier Aixtron, which is up more than 195% over the past 52 weeks. The S&P 500 managed a barely 2% gain over the same period.

Get stuck in the Middleby
Impressive, eh? I'll say. But I'm more interested in the multiyear multibagger. That's what we have with oven maker Middleby, which -- so far -- has been an eight-bagger for Motley Fool Hidden Gems subscribers.

Here's why I think more gains are on the way:

Company

Return on Capital

Returns on Equity

Gross Margin

Middleby

24.6%

41.9%

38.9%

TurboChef

(22.2%)

(38.8%)

38.5%

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, for the trailing 12-month period.

Notice the differences. Even though gross margin is similar, Middleby earns much higher returns on equity and capital than peer TurboChef Technologies (Nasdaq: OVEN  ) .

Some investors believe that outperformance is a credit to Middleby's ability to acquire assets on the cheap. Here's how CAPS All-Star SureBeatsWorking put it in a June pitch:

A great acquirer, which is where a lot of its growth comes from. It also has a habit of acquiring companies that will complement its existing business. Often acquisitions are picked up at bargain prices -- Alkar Holdings was bought for .445 times sales. New acquisition of Jade moves them into the high-end residential market (although they also do commercial)!

That's not all. This past fall, Middleby agreed to acquire New Star Holdings for $188 million and 30 times reported net income -- much more than its CEO, Selim Bassoul, a Foolish CEO of the year candidate, has ever paid for an acquisition.

I'd be more worried about that if Bassoul and his team didn't have such an extraordinary record for delivering excess returns on capital. But they do. And I believe they'll continue to, thanks to the fresh, piping-hot cash New Star's customers will be pouring into Middleby's coffers.

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

I'll be back tomorrow with more rocket stocks.


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