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Many investors adopt the mantra of set and forget income based portfolios, but in a volatile stock market, such as we have experienced over the last three years we need to look for undervalued growth opportunities to maximize portfolio returns. This article will review five of Jim Cramer's best performing stock picks over the past five years and will give you the opportunity to maximize portfolio growth in difficult market conditions:

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc (GMCR)

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has a market cap of $16.83 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 106.34. For a 52 week period its trading range has been $26.14 to $111.42 with an average trading volume of 2,715,130. Its last trading price was $109.96. The company reported third quarter earnings for 2011 as $717 million, an increase from second quarter earnings of $648 million.

Third quarter net income was $56.35 million which was a decrease from second quarter 2011 net income of $65.37 million. Even though gross earnings increased the decrease in third quarter net income can be attributed to an increase in total second quarter operating expenses of $70 million. This was caused by an increase in cost of revenue and increasing general administration expenses.

One of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters closest competitors is Peets Coffee and Tea Inc (PEET). Peets Coffee and Tea is currently trading at $54.26 and has a market cap of $700.44 million with a price to earnings ratio of 35.17. Like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Peets Coffee and Tea does not pay a dividend. Green Mountain Coffee has a far more aggressive future earnings forecast and is trading at a very price to earnings ratio in a volatile economic environment.

While it has a higher return on equity than Peets Coffee and Tea of 14.55% as against 12.44%, given the current volatile economic environment, declining consumer demand and recent gains in the stock price coupled with a high price to earnings ratio I would be very cautious in purchasing this stock and rate it as a hold.

Baidu.com Inc (BIDU)

Baidu.com Inc has a market cap of $50.33 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 65.57. For a 52 week period its trading range has been $83.25 to $165.96 with an average trading volume of 10.29 million shares. Its last trading price was $144.23. The company reported second quarter earnings for 2011 as $529 million, which is an increase from first quarter earnings 2011 of $374 million. Second quarter 2011 net income was $252.06 million which was an increase from first quarter net income of $163.5 million.

One of Baidu.com´s closest competitors is Sohu.com Inc (SOHU). Sohu.com is currently trading at $74.67 and has a market cap of $2.86 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 17.80. Like Baidu, Sohu does not pay a dividend.

Baidu has a far more aggressive future earnings forecast, a greater market capitalization and has demonstrated consistent earnings growth over the last year in a difficult economic environment. There is the opportunity for further growth in this market segment and I believe that Baidu is ideally positioned to continue growing well ahead of its nearest competitors. For these reasons I rate it as a buy.

Questor Pharamcueticuls Inc (QCOR)

Questor Pharamcueticuls Inc has a market cap of $1.72 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 41.84. For a 52 week period its trading range has been $9.33 to $32.78 with an average trading volume of 1.28M. Its last trading price was $27.59. The company reported second quarter 2011 earnings were $46 million, an increase from first quarter earnings of $36.8 million. Second quarter net income was $13.87 million, which was an increase from first quarter net income of $11.22 million. Questor Pharmaceuticals does not pay a dividend.

One of Questor Pharamcueticuls closest competitors is Sanofi-Aventis (SNY). Sanofi-Aventis is currently trading at $32.19 and has a market cap of $86.41 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 14.46. Unlike Questor Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) pays a dividend with a yield of 3.96%.

Recently, Questor Pharmaceuticals has seen a decrease its share price. This has created a buying opportunity, as it is a relatively small company when compared to its peers. It has an aggressive price to earnings ratio, which, when coupled with a return on equity of 36.14%, makes me recommend it as a buy.

Priceline.com Inc (PCLN)

Priceline.com Inc has a market cap of $26.32 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 37.42. For a 52 week period its trading range has been $322.57 to 561.88 with an average trading volume of 1.60M. Its last trading price was $528.87. The company reported second quarter earnings for 2011 as $1.1 billion which is an increase from first quarter earnings of $809 million. Second quarter net income was $256.37 million, a substantial increase from first quarter net income of $104.79 million.

One of Priceline.com´s closest competitors is Expedia Inc (EXPE). Expedia is currently trading at $29.64 and has a market cap of $8.13 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 19.06. Unlike Priceline, Expedia pays a dividend with a yield of 0.88%.

However, Priceline has a return on equity of 42.10% which is well above average for its sector and is substantially higher than the 15.77% generated by Expedia. Given the moderate price to earnings ratio, the higher than average return on equity and more than doubling in net income from first quarter to second quarter 2011, I am confident that Priceline can generate good growth over the short to medium term and accordingly rate it as a buy.

Deckers Outdoor Corporation (DECK)

Deckers Outdoor Corporation has a market cap of $3.56 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 25.36. For a 52 week period its trading range has been $45.17 to $105.83 with an average trading volume of 1.70M. Its last trading price was $92.37. The company reported second quarter earnings for 2011 as $154 million which is a decrease from first quarter earnings of $205 million. Second quarter net income was -$7.34 million, a substantial decrease from first quarter net income of $19.18 million. This decrease can be attributed the drop in gross revenue and an increase in general expenses.

One of Deckers Outdoor Corporation closest competitors is Timberland Company (TBL). Timberland is currently trading at $42.98 and has a market cap of $2.19 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 23.96. Like Deckers, Timberland doesn’t pay a dividend.

This decline in revenue has been evident since 2009 and for the second quarter 2011 the company has generated a net loss of $7.34 million. The current economic environment for retail apparel sales is particularly difficult and as the company is generating declining revenues and now a net loss I would be careful about purchasing this stock and rate it as a hold.



Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: Jim Cramer's Best Performing Stocks Picks Over The Past 5 Years