There has been plenty of hype in recent years over the need for significant spending on global water infrastructure. Reasons cited include years of neglect by local utilities and growing overseas demand for water, but this investment potential has gone unrealized -- unless you've discovered Badger Meter (NYSE: BMI).

Perhaps it's just too hard to get a clear handle on how to diagnose and fix aging wastewater and drinking systems. A case in point is Mueller Water Products (NYSE: MWA) (NYSE: MWA-B). Since being spun off from Walter Industries (NYSE: WLT), its stock has fallen significantly as a result of domestic difficulties stemming from a slowdown in residential construction and an inability so far to capitalize on stronger international trends.

Well, how about "drive-by radio frequency automatic meter reading (AMR) systems" to save a local utility from having to send a worker to manually read water meters house by house? It sounds complicated, and the technology undoubtedly is, but Badger Meter is growing gangbusters by selling AMRs and related products and services to utilities. It landed a three-year, $39.8 million contract last year with the city of Chicago and is building a new manufacturing plant in Mexico to keep up with demand.

First-quarter results released last evening confirm Badger's growth trend; it posted a 29.9% boost in sales and 127.8% jump in earnings per share from an admittedly slower quarter last year. Badger handily beat analyst earnings projections, and full-year sales are expected to grow in the double digits. This stellar performance is nothing new to Badger shareholders, who have enjoyed a multibagger over the past five years or so. The downside is the stock now trades at about 28 times forward earnings, but the company looks plenty able to keep the taps running.

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Mueller Water and Walter Industries are Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations. Readers can try the market-beating small-cap service free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.