Crocs Is a Bottle Rocket

There's a school of thinking that sees more promise in superior gains than in digging up great starting prices, even if you seem to be overpaying for that bottle rocket. Richard Driehaus, the godfather of momentum investing, takes exception to buying low and selling high: "I believe that far more money is made buying high and selling at even higher prices." And our Motley Fool Rule Breakers analysts would agree with that: momentum-like criteria show up twice in the six pillars of that newsletter's strategy.

Price momentum may not be a traditional marker of a strong business or a capable management team, but when you think about it, those qualities should eventually generate strong returns. This is just a slightly backwards way of looking at the numbers, throwing "cause" and "effect" into the same basket to find a starting point for more research.

So what kind of bottle rockets can we find today? I took that question to our CAPS screener, looking for stocks that have at least doubled from 52-week lows and are still within 10% of yearly highs.

One stock that caught my eye among the resulting 129 tickers today is shoe seller Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX  ) . If you bought shares in late November of last year, you're sitting on a massive 196% gain today. It's been nothing but blue skies ahead since hitting rock bottom, and the stock looks set to explore new highs -- again and again.

Here's how Crocs' gains stack up against some direct rivals over the last year:

Company

% Above 52-Week Low

% Below 52-Week High

Crocs

196%

(9%)

Deckers Outdoor (Nasdaq: DECK  )

117%

(19%)

Skechers USA (NYSE: SKX  )

98%

(39%)

Nike (NYSE: NKE  )

33%

(10%)

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and you should always do more research after finding a promising stock by screening. In this case, Crocs can back up the market-crushing performance with a solid turnaround story.

The trend-sensitive footwear designer fell out of favor with consumers in 2008, when sensible and cheap shoes suddenly trumped lightweight ones with stylish accessories. The company's cost structure wasn't set up to handle that revenue drop, and investors were severely punished for their faith in the Crocs concept: The share price imploded from more than $70 to about $1 per stub in the span of 13 months. Ouch.

Now Crocs is roaring back with a lighter corporate structure befitting its plastic-foam shoes, turning a profit and generating cash again. Even if Crocs isn't destined for a return to $70 a share, there's still plenty of room to run with this revitalized business model.

Buy now or forever hold your peace: This bottle rocket still has plenty of dry powder left in its growth engines.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Nike is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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