Orthopedic designer, developer, and manufacturer Zimmer Holdings (NYSE:ZMH) just posted solid fourth-quarter and year-end results, and there's no reason why the company can't grow unabated for many more years.

Our recent Fool by Numbers will walk you through the quarterly details, in which sales and earnings both came in ahead of analyst expectations. The full year wasn't as impressive, but total sales did grow 6%, and diluted earnings advanced 18% when excluding stock-option expenses. Last year's results included some acquisition and other charges, but management's guidance for 15% growth in diluted earnings for all of 2007 allays concerns that Zimmer's growth prospects are dimming.

Still, growth has slowed recently. Over the past five years, Zimmer has posted annual revenue growth of 25.9%; net income has advanced 33%, and operating cash flow has grown 30.5% in each of those years. But double-digit growth is still nothing to sneeze at, and Zimmer posts consistent net margins in excess of 20%, and subsequent high returns on invested capital. Plus, it has minimal overall long-term debt.

Zimmer is trading at about 21 times forecast earnings for 2007. That's not overly cheap, especially considering the stock just blew through its 52-week high today and is up almost 60% from its 52-week lows; it is now less than 10% from its all-time highs. However, it's the future that matters, and 15% or more earnings growth for the foreseeable future would make any current stock purchase a good move.

The overall industry is worth a look, since demographic trends and aging baby boomers will likely mean increasing numbers of knee, hip, and joint replacements to keep people active well into their golden years. However, keep in mind that the space is ultracompetitive, with relatively short product cycles and a continual need to develop the most technologically savvy products to stay ahead of the competition and impress demanding doctors and patients.

Peers include Stryker (NYSE:SYK), the soon-to-go-private Biomet (NASDAQ:BMET), London-based Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN), and the DePuy division of health-care giant Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). If that's not enough to make you shiver, Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) is a competitor in the spinal implant category.

The industry is indeed cutthroat, and it includes a number of the most successful innovators in health care. But you can't beat Zimmer's market-leading profitability and growth prospects.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Biomet but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.