Watching the 100 meter final Sunday left me astounded at the top speed achieved by Usain Bolt, the gold medal winner and fastest man on earth. Bolt and several other racers broke the world record, and Bolt was said to top out above 27 mph. That got me wondering about how many stocks are doing better than that in terms of earnings growth.
So I screened for companies with annual EPS growth of 25% or more over the last five years. I sought stocks trading above $5, to keep the penny stocks out of it. I capped the PEG ratio at 4.0X to try to find stocks with growth prospects not captured by valuation. I was somewhat surprised to find some of the top names trading cheaply on a PEG basis, but with such high growth rates; that can be expected with lightly followed smaller companies. That's where the stock-picker adds value.
Surprisingly, 455 companies turned up across the globe that were running faster than Olympian Usain Bolt and meeting those standards. So, I picked through and selected 10 U.S. traded stocks, but only those with positive earnings of at least a quarter and with projected five-year EPS growth of 20% or more (analysts' consensus). Those two constraints give me some comfort about the company's prospects even if the economy sours, as I expect.
Finally, I tried to hand select those that look worthy of a closer look at minimum and share purchase at best. These names are for aggressive investors, with at least some interest in finding growth at a reasonable price. The stocks are ranked based on their historical growth, which is obviously not a perfect predictor of the future.
Company & Ticker
Forecast 5-Year Growth
Alkermes plc (ALKS)
Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ)
Acacia Research (ACTG)
Northern Oil & Gas (NOG)
Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR)
EZchip Semiconductor (EZCH)
ZAGG, Inc. (ZAGG)
Several Internet plays made the list, including OpenTable (OPEN) , Baidu (BIDU) and Mercadolibre (MELI) . Biotechnology names top the list, with Alkermes (ALKS) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ). There's a North American domestic energy pure play in Northern Oil & Gas (NOG), and a semiconductor equipment & materials maker in EZchip (EZCH) . The semiconductor name is the only one I'm going to have to study a bit more to understand exactly what they do. There's the fast growing and well-known Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) and the novel IP services company, Acacia Research (ACTG) . And don't forget ZAGG (ZAGG), putting protecting coverings on everything you use and more. We really had some fun putting this group together, so much so, that I think I've got the itch back for small cap stock-picking.
None of the stocks seemed overly valued to me on a back of the envelope basis, and each of them passed my EPS tests, in which I look for sustainable and growing earnings. Each has appealing and in-demand goods and services, and I'm comfortable with the portfolio on the whole. However, I'm going to follow up this report with individual research on each company. That further due diligence should help us find out which of these companies will win next year's gold, and which may be one-hit wonders.