One of the commonest mistakes inexperienced investors make is searching for stocks near 52-week lows in the belief they are good value compared to their past prices. This is normally a mistaken belief though as markets are forward looking and falling share prices generally reflect expectations for more pain ahead.

Whereas rising prices reflect expectations for more strong performance and over time share prices almost always follow earnings growth either higher or lower.

So let’s take a look at five businesses that enjoyed a strong financial year 2016, with plenty of potential to post more strong earnings growth ahead.

TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPM) is a home broadband and fibre-optic internet business that continues to excel thanks to its excellent capital management and ability to reinvest for growth. Founder led and fast growing it is looking to take market share from giant online services rival Telstra. TPG shares sell for $11.91 and may continue to outperform over the long term.

Appen Ltd (ASX: APX) is a fast-rising language technology business that helps blue chip global clients translate digital or voice content into other languages. The company generally partners with other technology and ecommerce companies and is expecting full year earnings growth in the high teens percentage or above. The stock is up 356% over the past year and may continue to deliver long-term outperformance.

Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) is the US-focused shopping-centre operator that has seen its shares touch a new record high of $11.13 today. Its flagship Westfield World Trade Centre complex in New York is now fully leased and scheduled to open in August 2016. It has a total of $10.5 billion in development projects in the pipeline with US exposure, an experienced management team, reasonable valuation and attractive yield. Shares look a good prospect for FY17 and beyond.

Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) is the global hearing aid business that set a new record high this week of $124.95. The business has some strong earnings momentum and is benefiting from new product releases, a weaker dollar and market growth worldwide. It is likely to deliver another excellent result for the six months ending June 30 2016 and could enjoy a bumper FY17 that more than justifies its elevated share price.

Servcorp Limited (ASX: SRV) is a family-run business that has also traded near record highs for much of the year as it continues to post revenue and earnings growth at double-digit rates. The business lets serviced office space across major cities worldwide and around 80% of its revenue and profits are now earned offshore which means it’s a beneficiary of the outlook for a weaker Australian dollar. Shares sell for $6.80 after some recent weakness and this looks a high-quality business.

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson owns shares of Westfield.

You can find Tom on Twitter @tommyr345

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.