Monday'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 Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) touched a new 52-week high on the way to becoming a four-bagger over the past year and a half? Too many to count. 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 81,000 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

Chindex International (Nasdaq: CHDX  )

$38.81

***

35.5%

$14.54-$38.98

HMS Holdings (Nasdaq: HMSY  )

$34.30

*****

32.0%

$16.92-$35.42

Southwestern Energy (NYSE: SWN  )

$60.02

****

24.7%

$33.70-$60.18

Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM  )

$56.22

****

19.0%

$38.01-$57.37

Range Resources (NYSE: RRC  )

$56.11

*****

15.0%

$26.50-$56.22

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 health-care consultant HMS Holdings, which is up 91% over the past year. The S&P 500 is down 1% over that time.

All hands on Chindex
Chindex hasn't been quite that successful -- up 74% since last January -- but it appears to be poised for additional gains. Expanding margins and accelerating returns on capital and equity are what convinces me:

Metrics

Trailing 12 Months

FY 2007

FY 2006

FY 2005

Gross margin

22.1%

20.5%

18.7%

14.9%

Return on capital

9.8%

8.3%

2.1%

(8.5%)

Return on equity

13.2%

11.8%

0.7%

(18.6%)

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

I also like Chindex's market position as a supplier of health-care services and equipment to patients in the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. Medical services in this region have been sorely lacking. Just this week, for example, the government in Beijing released a survey in which its citizens said medical care is their top concern.

That doesn't sit well with officials. Wang Yukai, a professor at the China National School of Administration, said an interview with The Washington Post:

Eight hundred million farmers cannot afford medical insurance. Before, the reason was China's poor economy. But as China's economy has rapidly developed, health-care coverage hasn't expanded correspondingly.

If Chindex can play a role in providing a solution to that massive humanitarian problem, profits would surely follow.

But that's my take. What's yours? Would you buy Chindex 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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