While many investors are now chasing hot wireless growth stories captured in stocks like China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) and America Movil (NYSE:AMX), one sleeping giant has been posting big returns for patient investors as well -- Vodafone (NYSE:VOD). Because it's not known for spectacular growth, investors may be surprised to learn that shares of the Motley Fool Inside Value pick have returned nearly 150% over the past five years.

While these gains don't pack the shock value of China Mobile's dramatic double in the past year, Vodafone is more diversified, holding equity interests in operators in 25 countries across five continents. This diversity mutes rapid growth, but it offers investors less risk than regionally concentrated providers such as China Mobile or Russia's VimpelCom (NYSE:VIP), for instance.

The improvements Vodafone has made in its business were demonstrated in its half-yearly financial report released Tuesday, where it posted 9% revenue growth as it added a proportionate 20.5 million mobile customers. Much of Vodafone's growth was driven by emerging markets and Verizon Wireless, the U.S. operation that it shares with Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ). Mobile data and messaging revenues continue to grow: They made up 18.5% of revenue in the quarter ended in September versus 16.9% in the same quarter a year ago.

While widespread trends in adopting new wireless data services are helping Vodafone grow the top line, efficiency at the company is cutting costs and improving operating profits. CEO Arun Sarin noted that the company is executing well -- well enough to increase financial guidance for the second half of Vodafone's fiscal year.

While some gave Vodafone raspberries for passing on the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, the company has shown that solid performance doesn't only come from a one-hit wonder. The company is no slouch in offering advanced services, either -- it recently announced that it would collaborate with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) to offer phones that could tap into a wide range of music, games, navigation, and other applications from both companies' online portals. Moves like this show that Vodafone gets it -- that giving consumers what they want ultimately benefits the company over the long term.

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Vodafone was selected by the Motley Fool Inside Value team for its great prospects at a bargain price. A free 30-day trial shows just what other companies are trading below intrinsic value and poised to beat the market.

Fool contributor Dave Mock is ignored when he's sleeping and often when he's awake, too. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. China Mobile is a Global Gains recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy is never asleep at the wheel.