There's a school of thinking that sees more promise in superior gains than in digging up great starting prices, even if you seem to be overpaying for that bottle rocket. Richard Driehaus, the godfather of momentum investing, takes exception to buying low and selling high: "I believe that far more money is made buying high and selling at even higher prices." And our Rule Breakers analysts would agree with that: Momentum-like criteria show up twice in the six pillars of that newsletter's strategy.

Price momentum may not be a traditional marker of a strong business or a capable management team, but when you think about it, those qualities should eventually generate strong returns. This is just a slightly backward way of looking at the numbers, throwing "cause" and "effect" into the same basket to find a starting point for more research.

So what kind of bottle rockets can we find today? I took that question to our CAPS screener, looking for stocks that have at least doubled from 52-week lows and are still within 10% of yearly highs.

One stock that caught my eye among the resulting 129 tickers today is virtual computing expert and Rule Breakers recommendation VMware (NYSE: VMW). VMware has rewarded a few lucky shareholders with 158% returns -- if you bought shares in early September of last year. Since then, it's been nothing but blue skies ahead, and the stock looks set to explore new highs -- again and again.

Here's how VMware's gains stack up against some direct rivals over the past year:

Company

% Above 52-Week Low

% Below 52-Week High

VMWare

158%

(4%)

Citrix Systems (Nasdaq: CTXS)

72%

(4%)

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)

7%

(23%)

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and you should always do more research after finding a promising stock by screening. In this case, VMware can back up the market-crushing performance with solid business.

If virtual computing is the future of information technology, then VMware is the once and future king. VMware didn't invent the virtual machine, but it has certainly perfected it. Citrix owns a few profitable niches and qualifies as a bottle rocket in its own right, but the lion's share of this market still belongs to VMware.

Buy now or forever hold your peace: This bottle rocket still has plenty of dry powder left in its growth engines.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. VMware is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.