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The best thing about growth stocks is that they often grow into their seemingly outlandish valuations. As long as earnings continue to grow, good things will typically follow.
Things get even more interesting when bottom-line growth outpaces gains in share price. Over time, that's a winning recipe for any investor.
The term "next year's earnings" now refers to 2012, and you may be amazed at how quickly some of the market's seemingly overpriced players are growing. Loftier profit targets translate into lower forward P/E multiples.
Let's take a look at five unexpected cheapies.
This Year P/E
Next Year P/E
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
Valuation is only a number
Many of these multiples -- even those clocking in for next year -- are chunky. You don't often hear something along the lines of "this stock is so cheap that it's trading for a mere 43 times next year's projected profitability."
Then again, there is more to this basket of presumably pricey stocks than meets the cynical eye.
OmniVision Technologies makes image sensors. How big is this market? Well, have you seen a smartphone that didn't come with a snazzy camera? Let's think about portable media players and tablets. The first iPad didn't even have a camera when it was introduced last year. The iPad 2 comes with two. There was a time when iPods were just for music, but now the more popular lines come with the ability to snap digital photographs. Omnivision's sitting pretty, with an attractive forward earnings multiple in the pre-teens to boot.
NetSol Technologies provides leasing software and other enterprise solutions. Despite its smallish size, NetSol is every inch a global player. It inked sizable automotive-related deals in Japan and India last month.
NetSol boosted its guidance a few weeks ago for its fiscal year which ends this month. Instead of earning $0.15 a share to $0.20 a share, NetSol now sees a profit of $0.18 a share to $0.23 a share. This doesn't seem like the kind of stock that deserves a Dollar Menu price.
SouFun was such a hot IPO in 2010 that the Chinese website operator declared a 4-for-1 stock split earlier this year. Investors are shying away from China's dot-com speedsters these days, but it's easy to fall for SouFun trading at a sharp discount to its growth rate. The company's real estate data may seem iffy given China's real estate bubble, but its popular portal for home furnishings and decor should continue to do well in a robust economy.
Sonus Networks outfits the IP networking market with media and signaling gateways, policy/routing servers, session border controllers, and subscriber feature servers. Sonus has posted losses in two of the past three quarters, but skies should get clearer from here. Few will argue that Sonus is cheap at a negative trailing earnings multiple or even 43 times next year's target, but it's working its way out of depressed levels.
SIGA Technologies took off after the biotech was selected for procurement of its smallpox antiviral for the Strategic National Stockpile. Investors may have their doubts about what SIGA will do for an encore, though it does look cheap at just 12 times next year's forecast bottom line of $0.91 a share.
Adding it up
None of these stocks are immune to a market meltdown. If you're looking for bulwarks, you'll have to find them somewhere else.
These investments are largely high-beta growth stocks, and will likely remain that way for several more years. The key here, though, is that they aren't as expensive as pundits make them out to be.
It's the opportunity that you didn't know that you were waiting for.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz also believes that expensive stocks can get even more expensive, too. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.