I've got some shocking news for you. Analysts love to bandy about the claim that a particular stock is "priced for perfection" -- and it's a lie. I'm not talking about a deliberate fib, but when history buries the tired expression in a few months, you'll see that it's about as real as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the sight of Jim Cramer standing still.

It's a hoax. It's a myth. And allow me to be the first to confess that my own hands are dirty. Search for the term, and you will find it used dozens of times within our website. You can trace many of those mentions to my own byline, though I have sometimes used it in a disparaging light.

Still, I want to come clean. I may never have coated a Frisbee in tinfoil and called it a flying saucer, but I don't want to con anyone into believing that the expression is worth its weight in hype.

It's not. And I'm about to show you why.

The wrong way to eat an Apple
You don't need to take my word for it. Let's take a look at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). The stock's been on a tear in recent years, but there's never a shortage of folks who like to say it's topping out.

Om Malik of GigaOm.com described Apple as "priced for perfection" 17 months ago. The stock begins this new trading week perched 106% higher from that point. In cases like these, the further you go, the dumber the pros get.

Six months before Malik's call, Prudential analyst Steve Fortuna used the same words. "We believe the stock is now priced for perfection," he said, justifying his move in downgrading the stock. The shares are trading 124% higher today.

If you think that's bad, go back another 15 months. In the summer of 2004, with Apple's stock trading in the teens (adjusted for an eventual 2-for-1 stock split), Prudential also claimed that the stock was "priced for perfection" in view of its split-adjusted $13.50 price target.
















If "priced for perfection" is the segue to a nearly nine-bagger, how likely are you to run the other way when the next time you hear that expression?

More than just juicy fruit
It's not just Apple, of course. And I'm not out to pick on Malik and Fortuna, because Malik runs one of the most insightful blogs in cyberspace and Fortuna has made several timely calls in the computing sector.

We are all vulnerable to fall flat on our faces, but the trip down becomes all the more YouTube-worthy when the poetry of "priced for perfection" comes unlaced along the way.

Analysts have been saying that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is "priced for perfection" ever since it went public three summers ago at $85 a pop. It's a term that has been repeated again and again for the search-engine leader, and each time the stock has climbed several price points higher.

Cramer's latest book refers to Hansen Natural (NASDAQ:HANS) as a stock that was presumably "priced for perfection" two years ago but kept on trucking. It's not alone. Poke around long enough, and you'll find that Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) (NYSE:CMG-B), and Blue Nile (NASDAQ:NILE) that have all been tagged with the term, which in retrospect is starting to seem more like a merit badge.

Perfect beauty in a world of imperfections
By now, you've probably tired of reading the words "priced for perfection." Heck, let's boil it down to "PFP" to keep things simple. I think the real problem with the fiscal expression is that the word "perfect" isn't accurate in a financial world with infinite possibilities.

What is perfect? If analysts are as smart as bean counters can get, perfection would be a company that nails earnings, quarter after quarter. OK, but what about the company that laps the pros, consistently clocking in ahead of Wall Street's market mavens?

Google has blown past analyst expectations in 10 of its first 12 quarters as a public company. Blue Nile has missed just once since going public three years ago. Apple has nailed 18 consecutive market-thumping quarterly reports. Some of last year's hottest IPOs, like Chipotle and Crocs, have "perfect" streaks of coming in ahead of the market's "perfect" projections.

So maybe PFP is the new "overvalued" -- another term that is overused for companies that are ultimately proven to be underappreciated. One of the six signs of a Rule Breaker happens to be documented proof that the company is overvalued according to the financial media. (Curious about the other five signs?) Our Rule Breakers newsletter service has scored big gains on its scorecard with picks like Chipotle and Blue Nile, perhaps because opportunities exist when others are so preoccupied with sky-high multiples that they miss the catalysts that will drive heartier growth.

Priced for perfection? If you know the bubbling truth behind the steamy myth, it may just be the perfect buying opportunity. 

Blue Nile and Chipotle have been market-beating picks in the Rule Breakers growth-stock research service. What makes them so special? Find out for yourself with a free 30-day trial subscription. Free? Talk about being priced for perfection!  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes that the pursuit of perfection is more rewarding than the false notion of attaining it. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. Starbucks is a Stock Advisor pick. Chipotle's B shares are a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.