By James BrumleyNEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There's a balance between performance and stability when it comes to stock prices. Equities priced under $5 per share can offer huge percentage returns, but are generally volatile (
1. Boise ( BZ): Paper and forestry stocks have been one of the market's recent-but-quiet big winners, and Boise has been blazing the trail every step of the way. Shares are up about +46% in the past 12 months, while the forestry indices are up about +28% in the same period. The overall market, by comparison, has only gained about +14% in the same timeframe. While such outperformance has often been followed by matching underperformance in the past year and a half, for paper stocks -- and Boise in particular -- a continued uptrend may be more than merited. Skyrocketing materials costs through 2007 nearly brought the paper and corrugated box industry to its knees. For better or worse, the recession that began at the end of that year solved the problem. Though materials costs were up on a year-over-year basis for Boise last quarter, they're still well under 2007's stunning levels, despite the mild economic rebound since then. The result? Boise just posted record-breaking third-quarter operating income of $0.44 per share, and the sustainable balance between materials costs and paper demand remains intact. 2. Aircastle ( AYR): While it may feel too late to tap into the revival of the airline industry, it's not. The back door is still open, via Aircastle. The company arranges sales and leases of commercial jet aircraft, which was admittedly a lousy business to be in through 2009 while air passenger traffic was declining. In 2010, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Though bottom lines haven't actually rebounded yet, but they're expected to in 2011 on a year-over-year as well as on a sequential basis. Besides, with a trailing as well as a projected price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) just above 8.0, it's not like value is a question mark with Aircastle. 3. American Axle & Manufacturing ( AXL): The initial reaction to last quarter's earnings for American Axle & Manufacturing wasn't a kind one. Despite topping analyst estimates of $0.39 by actually bringing home $0.52 per share, the company dropped from a high of $10.15 to an ultimate low of $8.84 thanks to a "disappointing" full-year revenue forecast in the $2.2 billion to $2.3 billion range.