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In a rocky market environment, with the economic outlook also far from clear, one way to boost a portfolio is to seek out growth stocks - those dynamic companies that continue to expand year after year.
These can offer the astute investor both a steadily appreciating share price and a rising dividend payout.
However, they also come with greater risk than other stocks, often including high price-earnings ratios and significant share-price volatility.
Typically, a growth stock operates within a thriving industry and occupies a strong and expanding market share position within that industry, allowing it to boost profits on a sustainable basis.
Its particular strength might be its technology, or its ability to bring out a steady stream of innovative new products, or simply a business model that is superior to that of rivals.
Dynamic management is often another notable characteristic.
A classic example is the bionic-ear implant manufacturer Cochlear, which holds about two-thirds of the global market for its products with high profit margins. A continuing stream of new, high-tech models keeps it at the forefront of its industry.
Between 2004 and 2010 its earnings per share figure tripled and a glance at its long-term share-price chart shows that from about $22 in early 2004, the shares soared to nearly $80 in late 2007, before retreating when the global financial crisis hit.
Simon Robinson, a senior private wealth manager at Wilson HTM, which manages the Wilson HTM Priority Growth Fund, cites another example - electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi.
''Now that they have established their business model effectively, they are able to gain significant leverage as they continue to roll out new stores,'' he says. ''Then, as sales volumes increase, they get more buying power and more value for their advertising dollar.
''That allows them to become more efficient than competitors and they pass on these efficiencies to their customers, which makes them even more competitive. It is a virtuous circle.''
However, Robinson notes that a particular danger of growth stocks is that the market might project into the share price significant levels of growth, above what is actually achievable. This can lead to a high share price, followed by a sharp sell-off once investors realise that growth will not meet expectations.
''Growth stocks are sometimes significantly underpriced and sometimes they are significantly overpriced,'' he says. ''It is important for investors to understand the components of that growth, including the industry in which the company operates and the competitive dynamic there.''
In fact, he advises investors that their best strategy is to analyse companies carefully in order to spot potential growth stocks while they are still on relatively low price-earnings ratios and have not generally been recognised by the market.
For investors interested in this theme, another issue recently has come to the fore - claims that Australia now has far fewer growth stocks than previously.
''If you went back five years or so there were a lot of pretty sexy growth stories,'' says an equity strategist at Merrill Lynch, Tim Rocks. ''In healthcare there were companies like Cochlear and [vaccine and blood products corporation] CSL and in other industries you had a range of companies that still had good growth in front of them, such as JB Hi-Fi.
''[Surfwear specialist] Billabong International was another example.
''Even [merchant bank] Macquarie at that time, you would say, was a growth company. It was expanding offshore and as many as a dozen more large companies were out there, with very interesting long-term growth profiles.
''That appears to us to be no longer the case. Many of those companies are now well advanced in their strategies, so their periods of very high growth are behind them.
''And, more interestingly, the next generation has not really appeared to step up. So we struggle to find a big list of companies with that genuine sustainable growth in front of them.''
He notes that much growth in the Australian market comes from the resources sector but the relevant stocks tend to be volatile and too China-dependent to be classic growth stocks.
However, Robinson says, there are always growth stocks ''but the trick is finding them''.
The institutional business director at Hyperion Asset Management, Tim Samway, rates four internet companies - Seek, Holdings, REA Group and ''They have very high returns on equity, low debt and steady organic earnings growth,'' he