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10 Best-Performing Stocks in Three-Year Bull Market (Update2)

(Story updated to add reference to Select Comfort competitor Tempur-Pedic International.)

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The worst bear market since the Great Depression ended three years ago March 9. Since then, stocks have been on a tear, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 soaring at least 95%.

As could be expected, some shares rose in lockstep with those indices, while others rocketed and fizzled, and others still continue in their ascent.

In order to find the best of the last group, I screened Morningstar data for companies with solid financial fundamentals, a market value of at least $250 million and a three-year average annual return of 200% or better.

Surprisingly, there is only one technology company in the group, and the rest are a smorgasbord, including a yoga-wear retailer, a Las Vegas casino developer and a Canadian oil driller that went all the way to New Zealand to get at black-gold deposits.

And who could have guessed how badly people want a good night's sleep and are willing to part with several thousand dollars to sleep tight? Well, two mattress makers are among the top performers in the past three years and while one is on this the list, the other, Tempur Pedic International (TPX), with a three-year return of 176%, just missed.

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The 10 stocks we found are summarized below, and ranked in inverse order by the number of analysts' "buy" ratings. Be cautious, though. They've had their fair share of volatility, and, of course, any of them could underperform the broader market at any time.

10. TAG Oil (TAOIF)

Company profile: Tag Oil, with a market value of $547 million, is a Canadian company producing and exploring for oil and natural gas in oil shale in New Zealand using the fracking technique.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 43% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 318%. No U.S. analyst coverage is available, but hedge fund manager Elliott Associates, with $15 billion in assets, is the biggest stakeholder at 12%, followed by Fidelity and Fidelity Canada, with a combined 7%. Tag Oil said today that it upped its capital expenditures by $66 million to expand oil and gas drilling at its company-owned fields in New Zealand, because its efforts have been so successful.

For its third quarter ended Dec. 31, the company reported operating cash inflow of $4.8 million, compared to an outflow last year, and net operating income for the nine months of almost $11 million. It's expected to earn 19 cents per share in the current fiscal year, and that that will rise to 53 cents in 2013.

9. Dollar Thrifty Auto Group (DTG )

Company profile: Dollar Thrifty, with a market value of $2 billion, owns, operates and franchises car rental operations throughout the U.S., Canada and abroad.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 12% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 368%. Analysts give them two "buy" ratings and four "holds," according to a survey of analysts by S&P.

Dollar Thrifty had a run-up of 2,250% in 2009, but don't get too excited about that as it was almost delisted at the end of 2008 for not meeting its market value benchmark and traded as low as 60 cents a share before new management began to turn it around. It also benefited from a takeover attempt in 2010 from competitor Hertz (HTZ). Expect future share-price performance in line with that of its industry.
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