10 Best-Performing Stocks Under $5 This Year

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Stocks under $5, such as Evergreen Energy ( EEE) and Majesco Entertainment ( COOL), have more than tripled this year, leapfrogging the broader market and surprising investors who haven't heard of these penny-stock companies.

Money managers are arguing that investors should move into less-risky asset classes like large-cap equities after the rapid appreciation small-cap stocks have enjoyed during the two-year bull market. But small-cap stocks continue to perform as well or better than broader market averages. The Russell 2000 index -- a benchmark for small-cap stock performance -- is up 7.5% so far in 2011, matching the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and outpacing both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite.

Analysts expect stocks under $5, like Sprint Nextel ( S) and SatCon Technology ( SATC), to outperform this year, but those companies haven't been among the biggest winners. Penny stocks including Evergreen Energy have surged as much as 300% over the first four months of the year.

Investors in penny stocks must be prepared to lose it all. The risk of a sharp, quick selloff is elevated for investors in these companies. For example, LECG Corp. ( XPRT), which as a service offers independent expert testimony, dropped 93% this year to 9 cents and lost its listing on the Nasdaq. Meanwhile, Integra Bank ( IBNK) has tumbled 78% in the quarter to 17 cents, and Chinese cloud-computing company Subaye ( SBAY) is down 78% to $2.15.

Still, many inexpensive stocks have generated huge returns for lucky stock pickers. The following pages detail the best-performing stocks under $5 this year on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and NYSE Amex, ranked by total return for the quarter.

10. Radio One ( ROIAK)

Company Profile: Radio One is a multimedia company that mainly targets African-American consumers. The company owns 53 broadcast stations located in 16 urban markets in the U.S.

Shares of Radio One, which traded below $2 at the end of March, jumped in early April after the company closed on a new senior secured credit facility comprised of a $25 million revolving credit facility and a $386 million term loan. On April 18, Radio One announced a $15 million stock repurchase and said that preliminary results show that revenue in the first quarter rose 10.9% from the same period a year earlier.

Current Share Price: $2.66 (April 26)

2011 Total Return: 137%

Analyst Ratings: Gilford Securities has a "buy" rating and $2.75 price target on Radio One, while EVA Dimensions maintains a "hold" rating on the stock.

TheStreet Ratings has a "sell" rating on the stock, which it has maintained for two years. The latest report highlights Radio One's "unimpressive growth in net income, weak operating cash flow, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and generally weak debt management."

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