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25 Momentum Stocks for the Gambler in You

Editor's note: Jon D. Markman writes a weekly column for CNBC on MSN Money that is republished here on . He's also a regular contributor to RealMoney ,'s subscription site. If you'd like to see all of Jon Markman's RealMoney commentary, click here for information about a free trial.

Stock market got you down? Are all of those can't-miss financial stocks, consumer product stocks and technology stocks in your portfolio missing in action? Is your broker droning on about how he can't make you any money in this "low-volatility environment," whatever that is, and maybe you'd be interested in some municipal bonds or a certificate of deposit paying 2%? Brother, can you spare an annuity?

Well then, if you have the stomach for it, it's time to step into the casino. Throw away your cares about fiscal responsibility and enter the world of stock speculation circa 1999. This is a world where volatility is in the house, where momentum is not just another eight-letter word.

Yes, let's turn to our annual end-of-October list of the stocks that have blown away the competition this year with gains of 100% or more.

Stocks for the Stretch Drive

Longtime readers will recall that these stocks often do really well into year-end, then fall apart in the next calendar year. They do well in the stretch drive of the fourth quarter, apparently, because all of the portfolio managers who have scoffed at their gains all year finally wake up and smell the alpha. These babies are improvised explosive devices with lit fuses, and after the recent unpleasantness in the broader market, many appear ready to blow the pockets off short-sellers' khakis.

The primary criteria for this list are that the companies must have market capitalizations greater than $50 million, prices above $2 and trading volume of more than 25,000 shares a day. Last year, that would have netted us hundreds of companies. This year, there are only 100.

To make sure that we are looking at stocks that are still in uptrends and aren't round-tripping from being up 300% to flat, I have added criteria that the stocks must have been up in the past three months and the current price must be above its average price of the past 10 weeks and 50 weeks. That gets us down to 82 incredible names. The following table lists the top 15 through Oct. 24.

Markman's Big Gainers List for 2004
These companies have little in common except huge upside moves this year
Company Industry Market Cap % Rise YTD Oct. 25 Price StockScouter Ranking
Travelzoo (TZOO:Nasdaq) Internet $960 million 559.2% $65.14 3
Air T (AIRT:Nasdaq) Air delivery 75 million 452.0 27.73 1
Cenuco (ICU:NYSE) Education services 71 million 445.5 6.00 4
W.R. Grace (GRA:NYSE) Chemicals 772 million 361.9 11.62 4
QSound Labs (QSND:Nasdaq) Electronics 53 million 342.8 6.92 3
Terra Nitrogen (TNH:NYSE) Chemicals 400 million 333.5 21.38 4
Jupitermedia (JUPM:Nasdaq) Internet 627 million 322.6 20.31 5
Novatel Wireless (NVTL:Nasdaq) Business services 583 million 305.7 24.57 5
Riviera Holdings (RIV:NYSE) Casinos 72 million 288.2 21.00 5
Viewpoint (VWPT:Nasdaq) Multimedia software 162 million 280.0 3.07 3
Kmart Holding (KMRT:Nasdaq) Discount stores 8.1 billion 273.2 90.28 6
Isonics (ISON:Nasdaq) Chemicals 76 million 270.1 3.65 3
Elan (ELN:NYSE ADR) Drug delivery 9.7 billion 267.5 24.92 3
Vaalco Energy (VEIX:Nasdaq) Indep. oil & gas 156 million 263.6 5.04 5
NitroMed (NTMD:Nasdaq) Drug manufacturers 577 million 206.0 23.65 3
Source: MSN Money
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