BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- To find the best growth companies, says Cabot Money Management's Dennis Wassung, look in growing industries.

Investors have lost money on stocks in the past decade, as the S&P 500 Index fell 23%. The strategy of "buy and hold" -- purchasing shares and keeping them for years in the hopes of consistent price appreciation -- has largely failed.

"By looking at growth themes, you can pick companies that have great growth opportunities in front of them," says Wassung, a portfolio manager. "Rather than owning the S&P 500, following this theme of finding growth winners will benefit you over the long term. Now is your chance at good returns. We're still significantly below the peak of the market, so as we get back to those highs, you have a great opportunity to see growth."

Wassung helps manage aggressive-growth stocks at Cabot Money Management, which itself is focused on growth companies, defined as those that can increase earnings faster than the overall stock market.

"You want to find themes that can persevere through all types of markets," Wassung says. "That's really worked well, even in the last few months after the market peaked in April and has pulled back."

Finding winners is difficult. Fast-growing companies typically appear expensive compared with the broader market. And few pay dividends, which is unappealing to some investors.

Wassung stands behind five stocks that Cabot Money Management owns based on the theme of strong secular growth. Many of the shares have jumped, though Wassung says they're still attractive.

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