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5 Big Surprise Stock Winners of 2011

Stocks in this article: VRUSGILDLTSRGRDPZCOG

The company has made several small strategic acquisitions this year to help boost its future business. Insider buying has also helped to move the stock in the second half of 2011. What really helped the stock to climb was a series of announcements in early November when the company initiated a 5 million-share repurchase program in conjunction with its third-quarter earnings report.

Sturm Ruger: +118%

Sturm Ruger (RGR), which I highlighted in September as one of 7 Top Stocks That Should Continue to Outperform -- manufactures guns and ammunition. This was a hot sector during 2008 and 2009 when people were buying guns during the recession and in fear that an Obama presidency would ban the sale of handguns. Of course, none of that became reality. Nevertheless, 2009 was a banner year for the company, but 2010 was flat.

Surprisingly, 2011 was another record year for Sturm Ruger, and 2012 is expected to be better. The company's operational strength even caught the analysts off-guard as year-to-date earnings of $1.55 beat consensus estimates by 33 cents. I hate to use this word, but the only way to describe Sturm Ruger's success was as a result of "execution."

Sturm Ruger is one of TheStreet Ratings' Top-Rated Recreation Stocks and was featured last month in " 5 Sin Stocks That Could Pop on a Short Squeeze."

Domino's Pizza: +114%

Domino's Pizza (DPZ) is one stock that I was able to take advantage of in the second half of the year. In July, I was looking for stocks that would benefit from the end of the NFL lockout. Domino's had just reported its second-quarter results of 40 cents, which beat consensus analysts' estimates of 36 cents and were 21% greater than the prior year's quarter. Revenue of $384.9 million outpaced analysts' expectations by $8.1 million and grew 6.2% year over year. (Please note that the revenue growth may appear low due to an accounting allusion as one must consider that 26 units were sold to franchisees during the period, thus converting sales to franchise fees and distorting revenue growth in the process.) Domestic same-store sales rose 4.8%, and international same-store sales rose 7.4%. Finally, operating margins rose 100 basis points to 28.8%.

Domino's Pizza was also successfully reducing its debt for several quarters. My price target on the stock was set at $33, as I outlined in my newsletter The LakeView Restaurant & Food Chain Report. The company continued to perform above expectations throughout the summer, finally made an all-time high in the fall and then peaked in early December at $35.30. I sold my shares at $34.75.

Domino's shows up on a recent list of Cramer's 7 Stocks for Your Buy List.

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