NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Edwards Lifesciences(EW) - Get Report doesn't get a lot of attention on Wall Street, but this medical device company has been one of the top performers on the market for more than a decade, posting roughly 50% average annual shareholder returns since 2005. And over the past five years, investors have been rewarded with 180% gains.

So with Edwards shares down 1.0% year to date, now is the time to buy, especially with the company due to report fourth-quarter and full-year results Tuesday.

Edwards' shares closed Friday at $125.35, losing more 3%, but they were paring some of those losses on Monday, gaining 71 cents, or 0.6%, to $126.00 shortly before 12:00 p.m. EST.

The Irvine, Calif.-based company, which makes products to treat cardiovascular disease, has an average analyst 12-month price target of $144, suggesting the stock can gain at least 15%. And highest analyst price target of $159 implies the stock can gain roughly 27%. Analysts are bullish because of Edwards' consistent performance, which included growing earnings last year by 38%, according to CNN Money.

For some context, CareFusion (CFN) and Zimmer Holdings (ZMH) , which are in the same industry, grew earnings last year at 14% and 3%, respectively. Yet, both CareFusion and Zimmer trade at higher price-to-earnings ratios than Edwards. Take a look at the chart.

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EW PE Ratio (TTM)

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YCharts

Despite Edwards stock gaining more than 91% in 2014, its price-to-earnings ratio of 17.36 is still less than Zimmer's 26.8 and CareFusion's 30.1. And this is even as Edwards stock has outperformed both companies by 69 percentage points and 49 percentage points, respectively.

But here's the thing, analysts project Edwards to grow earnings at a 15% annual rate over the next five years. This means that during that span, Edwards is projected to grow 5.5 percentage points faster each year than Zimmer and and CareFusion.

In other words, Edwards' shares are cheap.

Edwards Tuesday plans to report results for the quarter ending in December. Analysts are looking for the company to post earnings per share of 95 cents on revenue of $610 million, representing year-over-year gains of 4% and 14%, respectively. For the full year, analysts will be looking for earnings of $3.39 per share, up 8% year over year, while full-year revenue is projected to grow 12% year over year to $2.3 billion.

All told, there are several reasons to expect these shares to climb in the next 12 to 18 months. Not the least of which is that the stock -- at a P/E of 17 -- is trading three points below the average P/E of companies in the S&P 500. And given Edwards' projected growth rate over its peers, analysts will have to revise forward estimates.

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At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

TheStreet Ratings team rates EDWARDS LIFESCIENCES CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate EDWARDS LIFESCIENCES CORP (EW) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: EW Ratings Report

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.