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 (Nasdaq: PCLN  ) touched a new 52-week high on the way to becoming a four-bagger in four years? 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 81,000-plus 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:


Closing Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

5-Year Growth Estimate

52-Week Range

HealthExtras (NASDAQ:HLEX)





Kendle International (NASDAQ:KNDL)





Pharmaceutical Product Dev (NASDAQ:PPDI)





Quilmes Industrial (NYSE:LQU)





Alcon (NYSE:ACL)





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

Our list features some promising (though speculative) stocks. Yet these titans can create astounding returns if you buy them before the market discovers them. Witness drug researcher Pharmaceutical Product Development, which has climbed 45.4% over the past 52 weeks, versus a 4.1% decline for the S&P 500.

Would you like aspirin with that?
Pharmacy-benefits manager HealthExtras hasn't performed quite as well -- up only 27.6% over the past year -- but I'm more intrigued by its prospects.

That's not an easy admission for me. I prefer to invest in businesses with generous margins that boast some sort of technical advantage. HealthExtras has neither. What it does have are accelerating double-digit returns on capital and steadily improving free cash flow.

Best of all, says CAPS player no12call, Healthextras is in the right market at the right time. Quoting from his recent CAPS pitch:

Drugs. Old people need them, and younger people want them. What can you say, they are low right now but on their way up with their Jan 7th announcement.

What he's referring to is a presentation that chief financial officer Mike Donovan gave at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference that day. Donovan apparently impressed investors when he spoke about the $50 billion opportunity for his company, which has booked $1.7 billion in revenue over the trailing 12 months.

HealthExtras is far too cheap for its outsized growth prospects, and I'll be adding the stock to my CAPS portfolio. But that's my take. What's yours? Would you buy HealthExtras 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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Related Tickers

9/30/2008 4:00 PM
HLEX $26.12 Down +0.00 +0.00%
HealthExtras CAPS Rating: *****
ACL.DL2 $167.99 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Alcon CAPS Rating: ****
KNDL.DL $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Kendle Internation… CAPS Rating: ****
PCLN $1463.02 Down -6.14 -0.42%
Priceline Group CAPS Rating: ****
PPDI.DL $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Pharmaceutical Pro… CAPS Rating: *****