This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series.

I'll be gathering more small- and mid-cap candidates for my Rising Star "multivitamin" portfolio over the next few days via my Foolish 8 and modified Foolish 8 screens. Today I present the Foolish 8, which was developed by Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner to identify profitable, rapid-growth, small-cap stocks. Here are the eight criteria:

  1. Revenues: $500 million or less.
  2. Earnings and sales growth: 25% or greater.
  3. Net profit margin: 7% or greater.
  4. Daily dollar volume: $1 million-$25 million.
  5. Insider holdings: 10% or greater.
  6. Share price: $7 or greater.
  7. Relative strength: 90 or greater.
  8. Operating cash flow: a positive number.

The contenders
This month, 10 companies passed the screen:


Market Cap 
(in millions)


Add to Your Watchlist

Akorn (Nasdaq: AKRX)



Altisource Portfolio Solutions


Real Estate Management and Development

American Vanguard (NYSE: AVD)



Bank of the Ozarks


Commercial Banks

ExlService Holdings (Nasdaq: EXLS)


IT Services

Hi-Tech Pharmacal



Liquidity Services


Internet Software and Services

MercadoLibre (Nasdaq: MELI)


Internet Software and Services

Ocwen Financial


Thrifts and Mortgage Finance





Source: S&P Capital IQ.

Akorn is making its first appearance on the Foolish 8 screen. It makes and markets various pharmaceutical products, with the core of its business tied to the ophthalmic, hospital drugs and injectables, and contract services segments. It has made numerous small acquisitions of companies and products. On the heels of a $120 million convertible debt offering, it's likely more is on the way. I do like the growth potential here.

American Vanguard is also new to the screen, and gives me probably the only chance I'll ever have to talk about molluscicides, or snail bait. That's just one of the specialty chemical products this company makes for the agricultural market. It's currently riding some strong revenue growth, but I worry about its ability to fend off larger competitors.

ExlService is back on the screen after a six-month absence. The back-office operations outsourcer took a hit in September after management announced a 4-million-share, follow-on offering. It has recovered from that, and its 43% year-over-year revenue growth is attracting some attention. I worry about goodwill and other intangibles making up 34% of its total assets, however. As I've explained in my ongoing goodwill series, anything over 20% means you need to be very comfortable with management's growth strategies and capabilities.

Following up...
Last month I told you I had MercadoLibre and Fortinet (Nasdaq: FTNT) on my short list, hoping to catch a better price. Both, however, continue their strong performance:

MercadoLibre Stock Chart

MercadoLibre Stock Chart by YCharts

One thing I hope my real-money portfolio demonstrates for you is patience. I've got plenty of it, and will wait to see if either of these gives us a better price in the months to come.

I hear CAPS calling
I'm tracking and scoring each one of my monthly screens now, so we can see exactly how they're performing. We refer to it as a CAPScall around these parts, and the Foolish 8 has its own page. Just add it as a favorite to keep up.

Tomorrow, I'll show you the results of this month's modified Foolish 8 screen, and then talk about the companies that interest me from both screens in more depth.

If you're interested in keeping up with any of these businesses, add them to your free Watchlist by clicking the "add" button in the far-right column of the table. You can also follow me on Twitter, and check out the multivitamin discussion board.