Investments that have been successful over the long term almost assuredly share at least one thing in common -- growth. You'll be able to find very few companies that have been unable to increase their earnings and yet still have produced good returns for shareholders.

Think about it this way: Dividends aside, investors reap their gains when a company's stock price goes up. The stock price is typically driven by two levers: earnings and the multiple that investors are willing to pay for those earnings. Since earnings multiples tend to fluctuate within a certain range, long-term investors should have a keen focus on the company's ability to increase earnings.

Does it seem too simple? Maybe keeping it simple is a good plan sometimes. After all, as Third Avenue's Marty Whitman has put it:

Based on my own personal experience -- both as an investor in recent years and an expert witness in years past -- rarely do more than three or four variables really count. Everything else is noise.

With that in mind, I've kept it simple and dug up five stocks that analysts expect will notch long-term earnings growth of 10% or better. I've also pulled up the CAPS star rating for each stock to show what the 135,000 members of the Motley Fool's CAPS community think of the company's prospects.


Expected Growth, Five years

Forward P/E

CAPS rating
(out of 5)

Under Armour (NYSE:UA)




MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE:WFR)




Fluor (NYSE:FLR)




Disney (NYSE:DIS)




Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS)




Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS. P/E = price-to-earnings ratio.

Wall Street analysts aren't known for being supernatural in their forecasting skills, so not all of these estimates may pan out. However, this list may be a good place to dig in for further research. I'll even get you started with some thoughts on a couple of these stocks.

Cool to the touch
During the financial meltdown, fleet-footed Goldman Sachs may have vastly outperformed plodding competitors like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup, not to mention more impressive foes like Morgan Stanley. And as the company's most recent earnings report shows, it continues to blast its way through the recession in impressive fashion.

I admire the results that Goldman has delivered even through tough times, and have given the stock a thumbs-up in my CAPS portfolio. However, I can't help being concerned that nothing has really changed in the banking sector, and the massive risk-taking that Goldman and others make a steady part of their diet will eventually come back to haunt us (again).

Many CAPS members have been even more bearish on Goldman, and the 732 underperform ratings on CAPS -- 13.3% of the total -- have kept the stock's rating at a lousy two stars.

Bringing the heat
But what about high growth and a high rating from the CAPS community? For that we can turn to Fluor.

Fluor is a powerhouse in the world of infrastructure. While the story of global infrastructure growth is certainly dented (at least) by the spiteful recession grinding on us, there is hope that governmental spending aimed at pulling countries out of the doldrums could be directed toward new projects that could benefit engineering and construction firms like Fluor.

More pertinent to Fluor though, is the world's thirst for oil and gas. Companies like Petrobras may be experts at tracking down oilfields, and Transocean (NYSE:RIG) is a specialist when it comes to drilling for it, but Fluor is involved in a lot of the infrastructure build-out in the oil and gas industry.

In the first quarter, nearly 60% of Fluor's revenue came from work in that sector, and as of the end of the first quarter, the company had a backlog of more than $16 billion for oil and gas projects. However, that is down from $21 billion at the end of 2008.

At the beginning of this year, MattH42004, one of the top-performing members in the CAPS community, became one of the many Fluor fans, writing:

[Fluor] is best of breed when it comes to American infrastructure stocks. They have a tremendous balance sheet, with over 2 billion in cash and only 18 million in debt coming due over the next five years. Management is very knowledgeable and has built up a record 35 billion backlog and can be counted on to navigate the next 12 months better than most.

But what do you think?
Which of these stocks do you think has what it takes to post solid growth in this economy? Or have analysts been too optimistic? More than 135,000 members of the free CAPS community are sharing their opinions on thousands of stocks. Head over to CAPS and let the community know what you think of Goldman Sachs, Fluor, or any of the other stocks listed above.

Related CAPS Foolishness:

Under Armour is both a Motley Fool Hidden Gems and Rule Breakers recommendation. Walt Disney is a Stock Advisor and Inside Value pick. Petrobras is an Income Investor selection. eBay is a recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Inside Value. The Fool owns shares of Under Armour. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Bank of America, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. You can check out the stocks he's keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS page, or you can connect with him on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy likes to keep it simple -- make your disclosure properly and you don't get put in the dreaded triangle choke.