5 Stocks That More Than Doubled in 2014
Build-a-Bear Workshop (BBW) -- Up 174 percent in 2014
It seemed as if Build-a-Bear Workshop was destined to be cast off to the Island of Misfit Toys a couple of years ago. Its mall shops where folks single out plush bear toys that are stuffed and outfitted as ordered lost their zing. Kids were no longer hosting their birthday parties there, and the once high-margin chain began posting losses.
Sales growth continues to be a challenge. Build-a-Bear will post another year of slightly lower sales despite starting to turn things around during the latter half of fiscal 2014. However, it's on track to post its first profitable year since fiscal 2010.
Vipshop (VIPS) -- Up 141 percent in 2014
One of this year's biggest Internet stock winners hails from China. Vipshop runs a platform resembling Groupon (GRPN) specializing in deep discounts on branded apparel. This may sound like a novel model -- especially given the struggles that stateside daily-deals providers have been going through -- but Vipshop is making it work.
You can thank heady growth for the ascending stock chart. It's not just the stock that's more than doubled this year. Revenue is on pace to more than double this year as well, with profitability nearly tripling. Vipshop has also beaten Wall Street's profit targets by 14 percent or better in each and every quarter over the past year.
Strayer Education (STRA) -- Up 112 percent in 2014
The world of for-profit post-secondary education has been rocked in recent years. Student loan repayment rates are crummy, and there are concerns about the efficacy of the Web-based educators. Strayer Education is the parent company of Strayer University, offering campus-based as well as online college degree programs. It's been challenged along with its peers.
Revenue and total student enrollments have dipped slightly over the past year, but new student enrollments actually increased in its latest quarter. It's also been able to trim its costs to the point where operating profits and outright earnings are improving despite the uninspiring top-line performance.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) -- Up 107 percent in 2014
Hackers are getting smart, so Palo Alto Networks has to be smarter. Palo Alto Networks offers cybersecurity protection for company networks. It went public at $42 in 2012, and it has gone on to nearly triple since then.
A good chunk of that spurt has come in 2014, naturally. Demand is growing quickly for Palo Alto Networks' security solutions, and analysts are following along. Stifel, FBR, Topeka Capital Markets, and Imperial Capital all boosted their price targets after last month's better-than-expected quarterly report.
American Airlines (AAL) -- Up 101 percent in 2014
Airlines have a volatile history as investments, but the industry's flying high this year as the plunge in oil prices is boosting profitability at a time when more people are taking to the friendly skies. American doesn't hedge its fuel costs, so it's benefiting from the sharp drop in kerosene.
JPMorgan (JPM) recently singled out American as its top airline stock for 2015. As long as oil jet-fuel costs stay low and the interest in travel remains high, JPMorgan will probably be right.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Palo Alto Networks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Want to make 2015 a winning investment year? Check out The Motley Fool'sone great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.