In my weekly Fool column "Get Ready for the Fall," I run's 52-week highs list through the "wisdom of crowds" meter we call Motley Fool CAPS. The result: a list of stocks that have flown so high, investors are starting to get nervous about that whole "gravity" thing. But while many stocks will indeed plunge back to Earth, some seem immune to gravity, steadily riding a rising megatrend to ever-greater heights.

Today, we'll move beyond stocks that have hit 52-week highs, and identify companies now surpassing five solid years of outperformance. Which of these will thrash the market averages for another half-decade? Here are this week's leading contenders:


Recent Price

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Bull Factor





Open Text  (NASDAQ:OTEX)




Rehabcare Group







Scripps Networks




Companies are selected from the "New 5-Year Highs" list published on MSN Money on Friday. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

As bad a year as 2009 was for investors, many stocks still managed to turn out winners in the end. As the markets get warmed up for 2010, the five companies named above are already well on their way to repeating the feat.

Which of the five has the best chance of making you the most money this year? The votes are in, and the verdict is clear:

CAPS member SH3 calls Oracle "the king of large-scale databases, with an ever-growing array of middleware. The primary moat is product quality, but the range of middleware is helping them develop a "top to bottom" answer to information management questions." Regarding Oracle's bid to take Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA) in-house, SH3 argues that: "Ellison's commitment to keeping the hardware is obvious in recent product announcement: taking a page from [Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL)] book, Oracle is offering a complete system, where (thanks to Linux) it effectively controls the entire user experience."

CAPS member pranjan agrees that Oracle will "benefit from an integrated hardware, software stack with the [Sun] acquisition. This should translate to higher service revenues on larger deals. Oracle is good at monetizing it's products."

Last but not least, in a bow to above-par trash-talking, I just cannot resist quoting CAPS member Afthought: "Best of breed generally outperforms a pack of mixed breeds and mongrels." (Note to IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT): I think he's talking to you.)

Afthought may be of the opinion that Oracle's rivals are dogs with fleas, but an objective look at the three companies suggests that they're all pretty much equal from a valuation point of view. Whether it's a question of buying Oracle at 22 times earnings and 12% projected growth annually over the next five years, Microsoft at a 20 P/E and an 11% growth rate, or IBM at 13.5 and 9% -- none of these three stocks exactly screams "Bargain!" to me.

But why might Oracle not be overpriced? For one thing, because if you dig a little deeper, you'll notice that while Oracle reported only $5.8 billion as its GAAP earnings over the last four quarters, its free cash flow is actually quite a bit higher -- $8.4 billion. With so much more cash flowing into its bank account than it reports as "net income," I actually think Oracle looks pretty reasonably priced at 15 times free cash flow.

Foolish takeaway
Now, would I like to see the margin of safety get a little bit wider before buying into Oracle? Absolutely. I'm not a fan of buying stocks that look only "reasonably priced" -- deep discounts being more my cup of tea. But like Afthought says, this stock is best-of-breed, and considering that, getting a discount price on it may be too much to ask for.

Do you have an opinion on Oracle? What a coincidence! We've got a place where you can tell people about it.

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Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Baidu and Open Text are Rule Breakers picks. Apple is a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of and has written puts on Oracle. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Options diagonal call recommendation. Open Text is a Motley Fool Options write puts recommendation.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 1,034 out of more than 145,000 members. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.