Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011's best-performing stocks under $5

2011's best-performing stocks under $5

Small but significant
The stampede to safety has been tough on small-cap stocks, which have underperformed the broader market in 2011.

Some smaller companies have managed to muscle through the economic malaise and grow.
Of course, size is often a component of success -- the impact of a new customer, for instance, or a favorable swing in materials costs can have a relatively big impact on a small company's bottom line.

Following is a close look at the year's top-performing stocks under $5 on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE Amex, ranked by total return as of Dec. 2.

Crescent Financial
Crescent Financial   is a holding company for Crescent State Bank, which operates 15 branches in North Carolina and has more than $900 million in assets.

The stock spiked in February after Piedmont Community Bank Group  agreed to pay $75 million for a 66% stake in the bank's corporate parent.
Like many community banks, Crescent State was losing money due to defaults on housing loans amid economic sluggishness. After the deal was completed, on Nov. 16, the new management said that it expected to add branches and that expansion through additional deals would be considered, but that no decision had been made about whether the Crescent State brand would survive.

Saratoga Resources
Saratoga Resources  explores for oil and natural gas in Louisiana and Texas.

The company, which operates out of Houston and Covington, La., emerged from bankruptcy last year with its debt obligations restructured.
It managed to preserve 100% of the interests of shareholders, fully repay creditors and bolster its bottom line through increased production.

The stock was added to the NYSE Amex in July. The listing was an indication of the company's turnaround, CEO Thomas Cooke said in a statement at the time.
Analysts International
Analysts International  provides its customers with a range of consulting and information-technology services.

The stock popped in February after the company forecast a profitable fiscal 2011. Shares dipped in May on the resignation of the Minneapolis company's chief financial officer.
But they rallied in November after the company posted third-quarter financial results that featured sharp increases in revenue and net income.

Flex Solutions International
Flexible Solutions International  provides technology used to conserve water and energy, including a specialty chemical that slows evaporation from lakes, reservoirs and swimming pools.

Shares in the Victoria, British Columbia, company hit a 52-week high of $3.39 in July on the strength of a 29% rise in fiscal-first-quarter revenues.
Growth has remained strong; the company last month posted third-quarter sales that were up 44%. The company swung to a loss in the period, however, citing an income-tax expense and costs related to construction of a factory in Alberta.

ParkerVision   develops radio-frequency integrated circuits and other technologies found in wireless applications.

Shares of ParkerVision surged in July after the company announced it was pursuing a patent-infringement lawsuit against rival Qualcomm
Management also said other manufacturers may be using the company's wireless radio technology without paying for it.

The Jacksonville, Fla., company has been developing its wireless radio technology since 1989 without much success in finding buyers. It has lost money in every year of its existence.

Vical   is a biopharmaceutical company that researches and develops vaccines based on its DNA delivery technology, which uses a pathogen's genetic code to induce an immune response.
Shares in the San Diego company have swung up and down in 2011, beginning the year at $2 before spiking above $5 in July on news that Vical had signed an exclusive license contract with Astellas Pharma  Japan's second-largest drug company, for commercialization of TransVax. The latter is Vical's therapeutic vaccine designed to control cytomegalovirus reactivation in transplant recipients.

The stock slipped back below $3 in October before getting a boost from the company's third-quarter financial results, which included $25 million in licensing revenue for TransVax.

Interphase  makes telecommunications and networking equipment. The Plano, Texas, company generates more than half of its revenue from sales outside the United States.

The stock more than doubled on Feb. 11, a day after Interphase reported that fourth-quarter revenue jumped 24% to $5.8 million, allowing the company to swing to a quarterly profit. The stock climbed to a 52-week high of $7.59 in March but was unable to sustain the climb.

Adolor  is developing drugs that alleviate side effects of certain painkillers. Its sole product, Entereg, is used to treat side effects of drugs used to blunt postoperative pain in patients recovering from gastrointestinal surgery.
The Exton, Pa., company also has an experimental drug, ADL5945, that could potentially treat chronic opioid-induced constipation.

The stock owes nearly all of its 2011 gain to the news, announced in late October, that Adolor would be acquired by Cubist Pharmaceuticals  for as much as $415 million, or $4.50 a share.

Majesco Entertainment
Majesco Entertainment  makes video games mainly for the family-oriented, mass-market consumer.

Majesco got off to a strong start for 2011 when it announced in January that it had shipped more than 500,000 copies of its "Zumba Fitness" video game for the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The Edison, N.J., company hopes to end the year on a high note as well: It expects strong sales of consumer electronics during the holidays, with average spending per consumer up 6% from last year to $246, according to one survey. Majesco hopes to take advantage of the season with the release of new videos, including the latest in the "Cooking Mama" franchise, "Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic," available in 3-D for the first time.

TeamStaff  is a provider of temporary and permanent personnel to perform health care, logistics, office administration and technical services to the U.S. government.
Shares jumped in May after the Somerset, N.J., company was chosen as the single source to provide integrated medical support to the Department of Veterans Affairs' Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy program.

In July, TeamStaff was awarded other contracts, including one with the Naval Surface Warfare Center that allows it to compete for orders under the SeaPort-e program, which is responsible for support-system procurement for all Navy ship and shipboard systems.
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