Ask cheapskate value investors to buy a stock that's achieved a new 52-week high and you'll get one of two responses:

  • Hysterical laughter.
  • Sudden nausea.

Pity them, Fool.

How many times did First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) touch a new 52-week high on its way to producing eight-bagger returns this year? Lots.

Never assume that "rocket stocks" -- high-growth stocks that are also realizing heavy price appreciation -- are too expensive. What looks like a cliff could really be base camp on a climb towards the summit of Everest.

Rocket stocks, not rocket science
Each weekday in this column, we enlist the more than 78,000 pro and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community to find stocks that are still climbing. We start with The Wall Street Journal's 52-week high lists. But we focus our search on stocks expected to boost net income by at least 15% a year for the next five years, and whose CAPS ratings sport at least two of the maximum five stars.

Here's what we've turned up today:


Closing Price

CAPS Rating
(5 max)



Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW)















Bio-Reference Laboratories (NASDAQ:BRLI)





Celera Group (NYSE:CRA)





Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool CAPS.

Our mostly small-cap list features some promising (though speculative) stocks. Yet these tiny titans can create astounding returns if they're bought before the market discovers them. Witness LKQ, which stands for "Like Kind Quality." Shares of the replacement auto parts maker are up 78% over the past 52 weeks. The S&P 500, by contrast, is up just 2% over the same period.

A referral for Bio-Reference
Regional lab Bio-Reference hasn't done quite as well, but is nonetheless up more than 50% since last December.

With our aging population, testing for life-threatening ailments such as cancer has become an in-demand business. Peers LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) are each expected to boost their bottom line by roughly 14% a year over the next five.

Bio-Reference, meanwhile, is growing even faster with esoteric tests doctors use to diagnose difficult cases. The strategy is paying off. Last night, Bio-Reference reported a 29% increase in fourth-quarter revenue and a 22% gain in diluted per-share income. That's roughly consistent with its third-quarter results, in which Bio-Reference posted a 35% year-over-year improvement in revenue and a 14% increase in diluted earnings per share.

If there's a problem with Bio-Reference it's with valuation. Analysts have tagged the shares with a 1.95 PEG ratio -- a healthy premium to both LabCorp and Quest. I'd prefer to see the reverse.

But I also take solace in who owns a piece of the business. Joel Tillinghast, a superstar bargain shopper and manager of Fidelity Low-Priced Stock (FLPSX), owns more shares than any other fund. Insiders, meanwhile, still have a 17% stake in Bio-Reference.

I can't ignore that sort of support; Bio-Reference joins my CAPS watch list today. But that's me. What's your take? Would you buy Bio-Reference at today's prices? Let us know by signing up for CAPS now. It's 100% free to participate.

I'll be back tomorrow with more rocket stocks.

Atwood Oceanics is just one of David Gardner's market-crushing picks for Motley Fool Stock Advisor. LabCorp has been a market-beater for brother Tom. View the entire portfolio with a free, 30-day trial to the service. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 10,181 out of more than 78,000 participants in CAPS, doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Find Tim's portfolio here and his latest blog commentary here. Quest Diagnostics is an Inside Value pick. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is saving up for a ticket to the moon, Alice.