Investments that have been successful over the long term almost assuredly share at least one thing in common -- growth. Very few companies that have been unable to increase their earnings have ultimately 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 seven stocks that analysts expect will notch long-term earnings growth of 10% or better. I've also pulled up the CAPS rating for each stock to show what the 140,000-member Motley Fool's CAPS community thinks of the company's prospects.

Company

Expected Growth

Forward P/E

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU)

37%

44.0

**

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN)

26%

49.2

**

Archer-Daniels-Midland (NYSE:ADM)

10%

11.0

****

SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK)

16%

16.1

****

Nike (NYSE:NKE)

12%

15.6

****

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (NYSE:BNI)

10%

13.6

*****

Lowe's (NYSE:LOW)

11%

14.6

***

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS.

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?
Being a high-flying Internet stock brought a lot of kudos in the late '90s, but battle-weary investors are focusing a lot more on valuation in these less-than-heady days. It's no surprise, then, that CAPS members have turned a wary eye toward both Amazon.com and Baidu.com.

Though investors expect Paul Bunyan-like growth from both companies, many seem to think that the price tags of these stocks have gotten too hot to touch. CAPS All-Star ksiu1 recently gave Amazon's stock a thumbs-down and shared cautionary words about what could happen if the company stumbles even a bit:

I really like amazon and the service it provides but 68 times earning is a bit expensive. It's not like the economy's pointing toward a full blown recovery. Once these guys miss their next earnings estimate by .01 it's going to take a pounding.

Bringing the heat
But what about high growth and a high rating from the CAPS community? For that, we can turn to Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

When fuel prices spiked, railroad operators had a chance to flex their muscle as trucking companies suddenly found themselves at a competitive disadvantage. That changed, though, when lower fuel prices and the depths of the global recession hit the U.S. like a 50-megaton warhead.

With more than half of its business from transporting consumer and industrial goods, it's no wonder Burlington Northern is still feeling the effects of that blast. In its most recent quarterly report, the company showed a per-share profit decline of 29% as revenue from consumer products slid 36% and revenue from industrial products dropped 34%.

CAPS members, though, have been fixed on the bigger picture and see the potential for Burlington Northern to bounce back. CAPS member mtinvest recently chimed in, reiterating bullishness on the rail sector while suggesting that Burlington Northern will edge out archrival Union Pacific:

Slighlty higher ROE than [Union Pacific], and a steady growth in shareholder equity over the years. Great company! Expect [Burlington Northern] to outperform [Union Pacific] by a tiny fraction over the years. And expect both companies to outperform the S&P500 significantly. Rails has been the place to be since 2005.

But what do you think?
Do these stocks have what it takes to post solid growth in this economy? Or have analysts been too optimistic? More than 140,000 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 Burlington Northern, Union Pacific, Amazon, Baidu, or any of the stocks listed above.

Related CAPS Foolishness:

Baidu is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Amazon is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Lowe's is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. 

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. 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.