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What: Shares of nanoscale measurement expert and Rule Breakers recommendation FEI
So what: FEI absolutely shattered analyst expectations for its fourth-quarter report and also set dauntingly high targets for the coming quarter. The order backlog is strong, and all the gains are riding a wave of high demand from customers in the electronics industry.
Now what: Management plans to expand its research and development budget in 2011 thanks to the financial flexibility that these results provide. FEI hit its 45% gross margin target a full year ahead of schedule -- with further improvement on the horizon. The stock has now gained 63% over the past year and 91% from 52-week lows set in early September, but this habitual five-star CAPS stock still looks cheap relative to its growth prospects.
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. FEI is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.