One great way to start building an investment watchlist is to look for stocks that have performed remarkably well in the recent past. The theory is that winning businesses tend to keep on winning, so a stock that has already put up huge gains should continue to rise, if the underlying reasons for the company's high-level performance remain. With that in mind, I ran a simple screen that looked for stocks that have gone up at least 300% over the last five years. Let's take a closer look at two companies that passed the test: NuVasive (NUVA 0.73%) and Manhattan Associates (MANH 0.61%) -- to see if they could be primed for more gains in the years ahead.
Competition in the medical device industry can be brutal. Health care providers often invest significant amounts of time and money in training staff how to use specific medical products, which can make them reluctant to adopt new technologies later. That's especially true when a patient's life is on the line, so you can imagine how hard it must be for an upstart in the spinal surgery market to grow.
Despite those challenges, NuVasive has proven itself capable of winning market share in this important and growing field. The reason is that its products allow for spine surgery to be performed using minimally invasive techniques, which means smaller incisions and less blood loss during surgery. Those benefits translate into faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays, which are benefits that patients and insurers alike can appreciate. That's the same formula for success that helped robotic surgery pioneer Intuitive Surgical disrupt the surgical market, so perhaps it is no wonder NuVasive has also been such a market darling.
Building on its successes, NuVasive has continued to find new avenues for growth. It recently entered the orthopedic market through its acquisition of Ellipse Technologies -- a deal that is expected to be accretive to earnings quickly. The company's minimally invasive products also stand a good chance of continuing to win market share away from incumbents in the spinal surgery market. With about 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, demand in both of those markets should only grow. That suggests that NuVasive is well positioned for more growth ahead.
Manhattan Associates: +385%
Today's ultra-competitive retail environment is making it increasingly difficult for companies to meet their customers' needs efficiently. Especially as retail sales continue to migrate online, it becomes harder for companies to effectively manage their supply chains. Because of that, more and more companies are turning to Manhattan Associates to help them get their ducks in a row.
Manhattan Associates has developed innovative hardware and software that makes it easier for companies large and small to handle inventory management, tracking, warehousing, forecasting, analytics, and more. Those are mission critical tasks that can be especially challenging for fast-growing companies to tackle, so perhaps it is no surprise to see that Under Armour, for example, has already signed on as a customer.
Given current trends, it's likely that supply chain logistics will only become increasingly more challenging to manage. After all, consumers today have a wide range of shopping choices, so retailers are going to have work ever harder to satisfy their needs. That should ensure that Manhattan's top- and bottom- lines should continue to grow at robust rates for years to come.
Can the good times continue from here?
While it is unlikely that either of these companies will produce multi-bagger returns over the next five years given their increased size, I'd argue that they each stand a good chance of putting up solid gains from here. After all, they both have long-term trends working in their favor, and what each is offering remains in high and growing demand. Therefore, I think that buying either one of these companies today will prove to be a profitable decision.