Forget Facebook, Here's the Real IPO You Should Own

By Michael Vodicka

NEW YORK ( StreetAuthority) -- Facebook's ( FB) recent flop as a publicly traded company has brought a lot of negative attention to initial public offerings. As many novice and experienced investors alike found out, more than a few important pieces need to come together for a successful IPO.

The company (and its underwriters) must create an accurate valuation for the stock based on key metrics like sales and income, issue the correct number of shares and find a price that satisfies demand while maximizing the amount of capital raised.

Clearly, Facebook and the investment banks that were paid big bucks to take it public missed on more than a few of these key criteria, with shares now down more than 20% from their recent high above $45.

But don't think that's standard for IPOs, because it's not.

In fact, there is one recent IPO that has been burning up the charts, up nearly 80%% since going public a little over a year ago in April of 2011. That trend carried over into 2012, with shares up an impressive 25% in the last six months to easily outperform the S&P 500's meager 6% return.

A Hugely Successful IPO

On the chart, you'll see this anti-Facebook IPO posting huge gains, with shares up more than 100% since going public in April 2011 for a whopping outperformance on the S&P 500. Take a look...

The company I'm referring to is GNC ( GNC), a specialty retailer of health and wellness products with a market capitalization of just $3.7 billion.

GNC's stated goal is to transition from specialty retailer to global brand. It already has a leading presence in the retail and online health and wellness space, which it should continue to build on as it executes its strategy to increase its franchise licenses and purse international opportunities in key growth markets like Asia, Western Europe and South America.

Although GNC has seen sharp gains in sales, earnings and its share price in the last year, taking a closer look at the company's business model reveals that it's still on the front end of a long-term growth trend.

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