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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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