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Why an investment in Ramsay Health Care Limited could make you wealthy

When you start to think of growth shares on the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO), shares such as Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd. (ASX: DMP) and Carsales.Com Ltd (ASX: CAR) will often come to mind.

Rightly so. Both these shares have provided incredibly strong shareholder returns for many years now. But one that probably doesn’t get talked about as much as it deserves is Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC).

If you had invested $25,000 in Ramsay Health Care 10 years ago you’d now have over $225,000 thanks to its average total shareholder return of 24.7% per annum.

Whilst gains of this magnitude may now be a thing of the past. I still believe Ramsay Health Care can produce market-beating returns for investors in the future thanks to its 221 hospitals and over 25,000 beds across six countries.

Management has stated its belief that the company is perfectly positioned to capture the growing global demand for healthcare. This demand has been brought on by ageing populations, longer life expectancy, increased chronic disease burden, population growth, and improvements in treatments and diagnostic methods.

I expect this demand will create solid levels of organic growth, but management doesn’t appear to want to rest on its laurels. It has advised that there are other avenues for growth, such as capacity expansion at existing sites, public and private collaborations, or acquisitions. Then of course there is the big one – the Chinese market.

The company may have pulled out of a joint venture in the city of Chengdu with Chinese company Jinxin. But this was due to certain conditions of the joint venture not being met. In my opinion it is far better that they wait for the right opportunity, than take a risk in a new market. I have little doubt expansion into China will come in due course and prove to be very profitable.

The recent weakening of the Australian dollar will be good news for the company as well. Approximately 48% of its half year revenue was earned overseas from operations in France and the United Kingdom.

According to CommSec, analysts are expecting Ramsay Health Care to grow its earnings by 22% per annum through to at least FY 2018. I believe this level of growth should keep the share price climbing higher, providing strong returns for investors.

As you might expect, its shares do not come cheap. Currently they are changing hands at 29x estimated FY 2016 earnings, which is a touch higher than the sector average of 27. But I believe they are worth every cent of that and are a far better long-term investment than Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL).

In my opinion Ramsay Health Care is one of the best growth shares on the Australian Stock Exchange. But it's not the only one. These three exciting shares could well be next in line to take your portfolio to new heights.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro 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.

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