The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has moved into positive territory, up around 0.2% in afternoon trade on Tuesday with the market brushing off a negative lead from commodity-linked stocks.

Perhaps more importantly, today’s market gains have helped the overall return of the index since the beginning of calendar year 2016 climb towards 1%.

Although that’s certainly a lacklustre performance, at least it’s better than a negative return!

The overall poor market returns are a reminder of the importance that stock picking can play for a portfolio.

For example, shares in the following seven companies have all recently hit fresh 52-week highs and have provided shareholders with double-digit returns in 2016.

Amcor Limited’s (ASX: AMC) share price has hit a new 52-week high of $16.03, taking the total share price appreciation since the beginning of January to 19%.

Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB) has rallied 12.5% this calendar year and touched a new 52-week high of $13.14 today.

Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) shares have today hit not just a 52-week high, but also a brand new all-time high of $15.47. The calendar year-to-date performance of the stock is up just over 17%.

JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH) has recorded gains of over 25% this calendar year thanks to impressive operating results which I wrote about here. The stock has today hit a new all-time high of $24.61.

Infrastructure stocks have also been finding favour with investors. Both Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd (ASX: SYD) and Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) have climbed their way to fresh highs. Sydney Airport’s shares have touched $7.29 today, taking total gains for 2016 to nearly 15%. Meanwhile, Transurban’s share price has recently touched a high of $12.48 with gains of 18% this year.

Treasury Wine Estate Ltd (ASX: TWE) has also climbed its way into new territory today with the stock touching an all-time high of $10.32. For the calendar year the stock has risen 24%.

Foolish takeaway

Simply hitting a new 52-week high is certainly no reason to buy a stock. It is however a flag that a company enjoys positive market sentiment and momentum which could be a good place to look for companies with above average business growth prospects.

By remaining focused on fundamental value, a ‘new highs’ list can be a good source of idea generation for the growth investor.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. 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.