One of the commonest mistakes investors make is using past share prices or company profits as a guide to value or future returns. Companies growing strongly often look expensive compared to past profits (or share prices) and this will deter many investors to such an extent that it permanently excludes them from the best growth stocks on the ASX.

In reality stocks trading at 52-week highs may still offer excellent value as share prices always follow earnings higher or lower over the long term and stocks (like other assets) are valued on their potential to return cash to investors in the future.

It follows that smart investors won’t be put off by high share prices where a company retains strong growth prospects. On the contrary they will look to buy the best growth businesses for their portfolios.

Below I have five companies trading near 52-week highs that investors should consider.

Cochlear Ltd (ASX: COH) is the market-leading hearing aid business that today hit a record high of $141.17 thanks to its strong long-term growth prospects. As a market leader it’s able to charge premium prices for its hearing aid products with an almost infinite addressable market and the tailwind of public sector healthcare spending. Assuming it’s managed properly there looks little to stop this business growing its earnings strongly over the very long term.

Seek Limited (ASX: SEK) is the globally focused jobs classifieds business with substantial operations in South East Asia, China, Brazil and Mexico. It enjoys some digital tailwinds is well managed and retains strong prospects for long-term earnings growth. At $15.60 the valuation is reasonable and I expect it could outperform the market for a long time yet.

Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) is a founder-led corporate travel business that is growing strongly by acquiring smaller travel operators around the world and rolling them up into its own global business operations. It’s also delivering some strong organic growth thanks to its sales teams’ ability to win new corporate clients. It’s a relatively simple business model being executed well that could keep delivering capital gains for shareholders long into the future. Shares sell for $17.57.

Catapult Group International Ltd (ASX: CAT) is the wearable sports analytics business that is selling its market-leading equipment at strong growth rates around the world. As a word of caution this business is yet to turn a profit as it remains in a growth phase and I would therefore only allocate 2% of available funds to this speculative prospect. Shares sell for $3.38.

MNF Group Ltd (ASX: MNF) MNF or Monday Night Football is an increasing popular sporting activity, only kidding, MNF is the former My Net Fone telco group that provides broadband and voice over internet services to consumer and corporate clients. It’s aiming to expand its voice minutes services globally and cross-sell its proprietary software products to clients using its global voice network. The stock does not come cheap at $4.55, although I expect it could post consistently strong growth over the next five years or so.

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson owns shares of Cochlear Ltd., Corporate Travel Management Limited, MNF Group Limited, and SEEK Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Corporate Travel Management Limited.

You can find Tom on Twitter @tommyr345

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.