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5 Best Performing Stocks in 2011

In this article, I compiled a list of stocks that have had a strong run during this year on the back of strong operating results. All of them have posted double digits gains. With the market gyrating, investors should wait for best time to be pessimistic before jumping into these stocks. Here are the 5 best performing stocks in 2011:

LinkedIn Corporation (LNKD): LinkedIn Corporation operates an online professional network. The company, through its proprietary platform, allows members to create, manage, and share their professional identity online, build and engage with their professional network, access shared knowledge and insights, and find business opportunities. LinkedIn Corporation went public on May 18, 2011 with an offering price of $45.00 and an opening price of $83.00. The stock is currently trading at $87.62, yielding a 94.71% return from its offering price and a 5.57% return from its opening price.

LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD)

LNKD has a market cap of $8.44 billion and is trading at 273.81 times next year’s earnings. Its earnings per share is $0.18. Its price/earnings-to-growth ratio is 43.34. Quarterly earnings growth is 5.10%. It carries no debt and shows $372.11 million in cash. One of LNKD’s competitors, Monster Worldwide, Inc. (MWW), is currently trading near $8.58. Its 52-week closing range is $6.34 to $25.90. Its earnings per share is $0.05, and price to earnings ratio is 165. Price/earnings to growth ratio is 1.15. Quarterly revenue growth is 25.50%. MWW shows $122.13 million in debt and $199.03 million in cash. Its market capitalization is $1.05 billion. Chase Coleman has a large LNKD position.

Baidu, Inc. (BIDU): Baidu, Inc. provides Chinese and Japanese language Internet search services. Its search services enable users to find relevant information online, including Web pages, news, images, multimedia files, and blogs through the links provided on its Websites. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of between $94.33 and $165.96. The stock is currently trading at $132.37 in the middle of its trading range. Earnings estimates for BIDU are $2.91 per share in 2011, and $4.40 for 2012. Its shares have gone up by 35.98% since the beginning of this year.

Near the lows of 2009, BIDU traded for about $10 and rose to about $165, providing exceptional returns to investors. With this stock trading at about 60 times earnings, any negative growth expectation, mismanagement, accounting issues, or government policy issues could be tough for investors. One of BIDU’s competitors, Sohu.com Inc. (SOHU), is currently trading near $56.52. Its 52-week closing range is $46.35 to $109.37. Its market capitalization is $2.17 billion. Its earnings per share is $4.19, and price to earnings ratio is 13.48. Price/earnings to growth ratio is 0.75. Quarterly revenue growth is 32.30%. SOHU shows zero debt with $811 million in cash.

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Amazon.com, Inc. operates as an online retailer in North America and internationally. It operates retail Web sites, including amazon.com and amazon.ca. The company serves consumers through its retail Web sites and focuses on selection, price, and convenience. This company continues to expand into areas that could lead to continued strong growth in the future. It has been successful in its Kindle book reader and is likely to continue with business and product innovations.

AMZN returned 31.54% since the beginning of the year. Its shares have traded between $156.57 and $246.71 in the past 52 weeks. Its shares are trading at $243.88 towards the top of the 52-week range. Earnings estimates for AMZN are $1.97 per share in 2011, and $3.22 for 2012. Its major competitor, eBay Inc. (EBAY) is currently trading near $33.87, with a 52-week closing range is $25.13 to $35.35.  Its market capitalization is $43.65 billion. Its earnings per share is $1.33, and price to earnings ratio is 25.45. Price/earnings to growth ratio is 1.35. EBAY shows $2.55 billion debt with $4.4 billion in cash. AMZN is a great company with incredibly smart management, but at about 107.58 times earnings, investors are probably paying too much for the potential growth. Some insiders are selling AMZN.

Whole Foods Markets, Inc. (WFM): Whole Foods Market, Inc. engages in the ownership and operation of natural and organic food supermarkets. The company offers produce, seafood, grocery, meat and poultry, bakery, prepared foods and catering, coffee and tea, nutritional supplements, and vitamins.

WFM returned 34.3% since the beginning of the year. Its shares are trading at $69.23. The shares have traded in a range of $37.36 and $73.33 in the past 52 weeks. Earnings estimates for WFM are just $1.92 per share in 2011, and $2.25 for 2012, so the PE ratio is about 37.5. I don’t know of any other food retailer that trades at this type of valuation. One of WFM’s competitors, Safeway Inc. (SWY) is currently trading near $17.96 in the middle of 52-week closing range of $15.93 and $25.43. Its market capitalization is $17.96 billion. Its earnings per share is $1.48, and price to earnings ratio is 12.14. Price/earnings to growth ratio is 1.29. SWY shows $5.05 billion debt with $180.5 million in cash. In addition, some insiders are selling WFM.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG): Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. develops and operates fast-casual, fresh Mexican food restaurants in the United States. The stock has risen 43% for the year and trades at 52.86 times its earnings. It touched a new 52-week high on September 19. It is currently trading near $319.85 with a 52-week closing range of $178.09 and $346.78. The good news may already be priced in. Second quarter results were strong with solid gains in the fundamentals. The profit margin is 19.75%, which was lower compared to last year which was offset by robust growth in sales and net income. CMG has managed to grow faster in sales than its competitors and it also has a strong balance sheet. The cash position is higher than a year ago as liquidity improved.

Another stock in the services sector, Priceline.com (PCLN) is currently trading near $493.21 in the middle of 52-week closing range of $341.24 and $561.88. Its market capitalization is $24.55 billion. Its earnings per share is $14.10, and price to earnings ratio is 34.97. Price/earnings to growth ratio is 0.77. PCLN shows $575 million debt with $1.95 billion in cash. There are some insider selling CMG.

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