Successful growth investors have at least one trait in common – they have the ability to grasp the growth potential of a particular company.

This trait allows them to buy a stock which will in general look expensive on many commonly utilised valuation metrics.

Lacking this trait means an investor often misses out on owning shares in companies that go on to record enormous gains, like the following four…

SEEK Limited (ASX: SEK) owns a website which will be familiar to most Australians who have sought employment in the past decade. The leading market position of SEEK’s website has led to the stock achieving a total shareholder return (TSR) of 16.2% per annum (pa) over the past 10 years.

Past growth has obviously been stellar but there are plenty of reasons to remain positive about the future with the group so far being successful at expanding its operations into new regions and new verticals.

REA Group Limited (ASX: REA) has become the undisputed leader in the real estate classifieds market much as SEEK has in the jobs market place. A TSR of 35.2% pa for the past decade makes it one of the very best long-term investments on the ASX.

With a booming housing market and overseas growth opportunities including the imminent takeover of Asia-focussed real estate portal operator iProperty Group Ltd (ASX: IPP), REA is expected to continue to grow earnings at a solid rate.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd. (ASX: DMP) has been outstandingly successful at expanding its master franchise pizza operations. The TSR over the past decade is 36.4% pa!

Recent acquisitions are set to keep earnings on a growth trajectory and according to one analyst consensus, earnings per share (EPS) should double over the next three years!

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) has been another top long-term investment with an average annual TSR of 23.9% over the past 10 years.

Australia’s leading global biopharma company looks set to continue its positive momentum with analyst consensus forecasting EPS to leap from $3.75 last financial year (FY) to $5.51 in FY 2018.

Of course growth investing isn’t without its risks. An inaccurate assessment of a company’s future growth rate can ultimately result in a severe derating of its stock price. No matter what style of investment strategy you utilise, exercising caution is always important.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.