In my weekly Fool column "Get Ready for the Fall," I run Nasdaq.com's 52-week highs list through the "wisdom of crowds" meter we call Motley Fool CAPS. The result: a list of stocks that have flown so high, investors are starting to get nervous about that whole "gravity" thing. But while many stocks will indeed plunge back to Earth, some seem immune to gravity, steadily riding a rising megatrend to ever-greater heights.

Today, we'll move beyond stocks that have hit 52-week highs, and identify companies now surpassing five solid years of outperformance. Which of these will thrash the market averages for another half-decade? Here are this week's leading contenders:

Stock

Recent Price

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Bull Factor

International Shipholding (NYSE:ISH)

$29.96

*****

97%

STEC (NASDAQ:STEC)

$39.90

**

84%

Dollar Tree  (NASDAQ:DLTR)

$51.13

**

90%

Targacept

$14.43

*

23%

Isramco

$158.46

*

12%

Companies are selected from the "New 5-Year Highs" list published on MSN Money on Friday. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

"Everybody loves a winner"
So they tell me, but to be honest, Fools, I'm not seeing a lot of love in the table up above. To the contrary, the more most of these stocks soar, the more investors sour on their prospects. Fact is, there's only one stock out there that investors believe can maintain the momentum.

That's why today we'll be examining ...

The bull case for International Shipholding
CAPS member eleev introduces us to International Shipholding as a "tanker with high dividend and governments as clients." But that hardly tells the whole story. Based in Mobile, Ala., the company operates a fleet of 31 vessels. Charter clients include governments, yes, but also commercial customers, including global commodities titans like McMoRan Exploration (NYSE:MMR) and Mosaic (NYSE:MOS).

Way back in 2007, bebop111 had already caught on to this story, noting that the stock was selling "BELOW the book value." bebop111 also commented that: "Motley Fool devotees know that insider ownership is a plus." [It's true. We do.] And: "[International Shipholding] has 37 percent insider ownership." (But note that this has since fallen to 28%.) As for the future, jbeavers14 argued last year: "The need for shipping will continue through this market downturn so [International Shipholding] should bring some value." So far so good -- this stock has beaten the market by 50 percentage points since jbeavers14 picked it.

It's also worth pointing out that the shipping industry is populated by debt-laden shops such as DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS) and Eagle Bulk Shipping (NASDAQ:EGLE). International Shipping too has its share, with $139 million in debt against a market cap of just $222 million.

True, the company does have a good $70 million in cash as ballast, and did generate more than $38 million in free cash flow over the last 12 months -- even more than it reported as net income. At this rate, International Shipping could theoretically make itself debt-free within two years of operations if it so chose (but honestly, with interest rates as low as they are right now, I don't know why it would so choose.)

Personally, I think the company's doing just fine, doing just what it's doing right now:

  • Generating boatloads of cash
  • Paying out a fat 6.7% dividend
  • And offering ivnestors the chance to own this superb operation for the low, low price of less than six times free cash flow. Profits ahoy!

(Disagree? Feel free. Dissent isn't just welcomed -- it's encouraged here at the Fool. If you've looked below the waterline and spotted a hole in the International Shipholding story, we'd love to hear about it. Click on over to Motley Fool CAPS, and tell me why I'm wrong.)

Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 487 out of more than 140,000 members. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.