BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Stocks under $5, such as Evergreen Energy (EEE) and Acceler8 Technology (AXK), have more than doubled this year, trouncing the broader market and surprising investors who haven't heard of these penny-stock companies.
Money managers argue that investors should move into less risky asset classes like large-cap equities after the rapid appreciation small-cap stocks have enjoyed during the two-year bull market. But small-cap stocks continue to perform as well or better than broader market averages. The Russell 2000 index -- a benchmark for small-cap stock performance -- is up nearly 5% so far in 2011, matching the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and outpacing both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite.
Analysts expect stocks under $5, like Sprint Nextel (S) and SatCon Technology (SATC), will outperform this year, but those companies haven't been among the biggest winners. Penny stocks including Evergreen Energy have surged as much as 300%.
Investors in penny stocks must be prepared to lose it all. The risk of a sharp, quick selloff is elevated for investors in these companies. For example, LECG Corp. (XPRT) dropped 85% this year to 20 cents, Tasty Baking (TSTY) has tumbled 72% in the quarter to $1.76 and Jackson Hewitt Tax Services (JTX) is down 71% to 63 cents.Still, many inexpensive stocks have generated huge returns for lucky stock pickers. The following pages detail the best-performing stocks under $5 this year on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and NYSE Amex, ranked by total return for the quarter.
10. Innovaro (INV) Company Profile: Formerly known as Utek Corp., Innovaro helps companies enhance their innovation capabilities and create value from their intellectual property. The stock spiked in February after Innovaro announced that it had entered into a consulting-services agreement with a major Asian telecommunications company. On Feb. 28 and March 22, following increased volume and a rapid increase in share price, Innovaro said the NYSE Amex had contacted the company and requested a press release regarding the increased market activity. Both times Innovaro declined to do so. Current Share Price: $3.12 (March 29) First Quarter Total Return: 118% Analyst Ratings: No Wall Street firm has coverage of Innovaro. In addition, TheStreet Ratings doesn't currently have a rating on Innovaro.