Why these 4 ASX shares are hitting 52-week highs

Despite the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) giving up most of 2015’s end of year rally, there are a number of shares hitting fresh 52-week highs.

While value investors often seek out companies hitting 52-week lows, it can be just as helpful to look over the list of companies hitting 52-week highs as this can often be a sign that a company is heading in the right direction – especially when the broader market is falling or moving sideways.

Here are four interesting shares that have hit recent 52-week highs:

1. Collins Foods Ltd (ASX: CKF) – Collins Foods’ share price has surged since releasing its first half results in December and this caps off a stellar 12 months for the stock that has more than doubled since the start of 2015. The company owns and operates 174 KFC stores across Australia and has been successful in delivering strong same-store sales growth at the same time as opening new stores. The most recent results showed revenue growth of 5.1%, but more importantly, profit growth of more than 33%. Same-store sales increased by 5.2% and margins have also increased through improved operational efficiency. The outlook for the remainder of the year is positive for Collins Foods, but with the shares are now trading at 17x earnings, they could be set for a breather.

2. Vita Life Sciences Limited (ASX: VSC) – Vita Life Sciences is an interesting company in that it is a pharmaceutical and healthcare company, mainly engaged in the distribution of health supplements and vitamins. The shares are up nearly 18% today on no company news and are up more than 150% since hitting a low of 75 cents in August. The most interesting aspect of Vita Life Sciences is that it owns and distributes around 800 registered types of vitamins and supplements sold in eight countries in the Asia Pacific region. Unlike Blackmores Limited (ASX: BKL) however, the company has not been able to create any meaningful growth in revenue or earnings in the region. Until the company can show it can consistently deliver earnings growth, I would not be an investor in the company.

3. APN Outdoor Group Ltd (ASX: APO) – APN has been one of the true success stories on the ASX over the past 12 months with the shares up more than 150%. The stock just hit a fresh 52-week high of $6.40 and now has a market capitalisation of over $1 billion. APN is at the forefront in outdoor advertising and since releasing a profit upgrade in October, the shares have continued to power ahead. The most pleasing aspect for shareholders is the time frame within which the upgrade was provided. Just two months after releasing updated guidance to the market, APN once again increased its guidance for the remainder of the year which could see it beat its prospectus forecast for earnings by nearly 30%. Although the shares are looking quite expensive now, there is still a good chance for further gains if the company provides a positive outlook when it releases its full year results.

4. Elders Ltd (ASX: ELD) – Elders was near financial ruin only two years ago but has since been revived and looks like it may once again flourish. Much of the turnaround can be attributed to a simplified, rural focussed business model with a clear focus on improving operational efficiencies, fostering customer relationships and diversifying its operations across a number of rural industries. With the turnaround nearly complete, the stock has also benefited from the signing of free trade agreements and the investing thematic involving agriculture and the ‘food boom’. The general sentiment towards agricultural stocks has now shifted into a positive mood and Elders may be a stock worth keeping an eye on.

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Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges 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.

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