When looking for companies to invest in, it is important to consider their growth prospects. Getting just one extreme growth stock into your portfolio can really enhance your returns. This type of growth is common in the fast-moving field of high technology. The five companies below fit that criterion, as all of them have provided returns far above those of the S&P 500.


Market Cap (billions)

1-Year Revenue Growth

1-Year Return

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU)





Red Hat (NYSE:RHT)





MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI)





Omniture (NASDAQ:OMTR)










*Since MercadoLibre's IPO last August.
Financial data from Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s.

Company performance
Baidu is the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) of China. Currently, it is the dominant search engine in the Middle Kingdom, where explosive economic growth in the world's largest population has investors practically drooling over the prospective investment gains. In two and a half years on the stock market, Baidu's shares have tripled. The company is estimating about 95% revenue growth for the upcoming year, and the local search market certainly looks strong enough to support growth like that for years to come.

Already the self-proclaimed market leader in Web analytics with more than 3,000 customers, Omniture looks ready to leverage that dominant position into impressive growth over the next five years. In the past year, the company grew revenue at 92% as the stock price soared 28%. With the average Wall Street analyst expecting 40.5% annual earnings growth, there is no reason to doubt that this market-beating trend will continue.

Linux veteran Red Hat recently installed former Delta Air Lines COO Jim Whitehurst at the top, and the new CEO is having a blast running a revolutionary open-source software company rather than fighting the eternal death throes of the airline industry. Red Hat has been at the center of the open-source revolution that has been percolating for nearly two decades, and free software (free as in “speech,” not necessarily as in “beer”) is finally hitting the mainstream.

This stock has almost doubled in three years and tripled in five, and I think the conditions for continued market-beating growth are secure. While last year's performance wasn't a world-beater, breaking the stride for a bit simply gives investors a chance to jump in at a great price. Red Hat is poised to challenge Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in a few short years, and Google has been looking to promote Linux recently.

Today, Wall Street; tomorrow, the world
As always, this is not a "buy me now!" list, but a starting point for your own research. Three of these stocks have the backing of a Foolish newsletter, so a free 30-day trial subscription or two could help you on your way.

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