Insider Buying Alert: This Time, the Recovery Is for Real

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The U.S. recession may have ended in June 2009, according to the official arbiter of the business cycle. But by all signs, the recovery is just beginning, writes Caroline Baum at Bloomberg.

Recent data on fourth-quarter growth of 3 percent to 3.5 percent is already being dismissed as another flash in the pan -- so what's different this time?

Starting to look like a real recovery
For starters, the composition of current growth more closely resembles that seen in the early stages of recoveries, according to Joe Carson, the head of global economic research at AllianceBernstein LP in New York.

"Consumer durables and housing accounted for roughly half of the increase in real GDP during the fourth quarter," Carson told Bloomberg.

Homebuilders rallying
Baum points out that the stock market is also sensing a turn in the economy. She points put that homebuilders, along with building- and construction-product makers, were the best performers in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index in the fourth quarter.

"This isn't to say the economy is about to experience a typical post-recession growth spurt," writes Baum. "But it could be embarking on what economists like to call a self-sustaining recovery, even in the face of Europe's debt crisis."

Business section: Investing ideas
Looking for long-term ideas to play the economic rebound?

To help you explore the idea, we crunched the numbers on high growth companies -- focusing on companies that have reported growth above 20% over the last five years. In addition, Wall Street analysts project these companies' profits to keep growing at higher-than-normal rates over the next five years.

To refine the quality of the list, we collected data on insider transactions, and identified a list of growth stocks that have seen significant insider buying over the last six months.

Theoretically, insiders know more about their companies than anyone else. So if they're using their own cash to buy the shares of their employers, you better pay close attention.

Insider executives are optimistic on the outlook of these companies and the economy -- do you agree? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. American Public Education (NAS: APEI) : Provides online higher education focused primarily on serving the military and public service communities. Earnings per share grew by 33.87% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 21.89% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 283,600 shares, which represents about 1.69% of the company's 16.78M share float.

2. Aruba Networks (NAS: ARUN) : Provides distributed enterprise networks that securely connect local and remote users to corporate information technology resources worldwide. Earnings per share grew by 87.37% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 24.66% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 444,930 shares, which represents about 0.44% of the company's 100.39M share float.

3. Avis Budget Group: Provides car and truck rentals, and ancillary services to businesses and consumers in the United States and internationally. Earnings per share grew by 22.84% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 32.75% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 96,673 shares, which represents about 0.11% of the company's 86.49M share float.

4. Federal-Mogul: Federal-Mogul Corporation supplies powertrain and safety technologies worldwide. Earnings per share grew by 52.12% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 52.40% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 1,143,330 shares, which represents about 5.1% of the company's 22.42M share float.

5. Gaylord Entertainment: Operates as a diversified hospitality and entertainment company in the United States. Earnings per share grew by 31.03% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 20.58% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 4,266,250 shares, which represents about 11.72% of the company's 36.41M share float.

6. Smart Balance (NAS: SMBL) : Distributes various food products in the United States and internationally. Earnings per share grew by 64.88% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 26.67% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 22,610 shares, which represents about 0.05% of the company's 48.84M share float.

7. VMware (NYS: VMW) : Provides virtualization and virtualization-based cloud infrastructure solutions primarily in the United States. Earnings per share grew by 33.26% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 26.06% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 3,295,564 shares, which represents about 4.28% of the company's 77.05M share float.

8. Vistaprint: Operates as an online provider of marketing products and services to micro businesses worldwide. Earnings per share grew by 32.26% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 20.25% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 613,552 shares, which represents about 1.99% of the company's 30.82M share float.

9. Walter Energy (NYS: WLT) : Produces and exports metallurgical coal for the steel industry primarily in the United States. Earnings per share grew by 49.84% over the last five years, and Wall Street analysts project that these earnings are going to grow by 21.18% over the next five years. Over the last six months, insiders were net buyers of 29,820 shares, which represents about 0.05% of the company's 62.12M share float

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen does not own any of the shares mentioned above.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of American Public Education and Vistaprint V. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of American Public Education, Walter Energy, Vistaprint V, and VMware. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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