Jubilee Platinum (LSE: JLP), 88 Energy (LSE: 88E) and Xtract (LSE: XTR) are three AIM darlings that have shown over the past year that they can generate attractive returns for investors.

However, each company has its pros and cons, and some investors may not feel comfortable buying all three darlings to minimise risk and profit from the upside available.

So, if you could only pick one of these three AIM champions, which one deserves your cash?

Impressive qualities

Jubilee, 88 Energy and Xtract all have their attractive individual qualities. But rather than trying to figure out which company has the best prospects (a process that involves a significant degree of guesswork) I’m going to evaluate each company based on its most recent financial statements and progress over the past 12 months.

Jubilee’s management has been working flat out over the previous 12 months to get the company producing platinum and generating profit for investors. Today, the company announced that the erection of the ASA Metals processing plant has now been completed and when combined with the Hernic Tailings project, Jubilee will have an annualised process capacity of more than 900,000 tons from the two platinum surface tailings projects. Both projects are set to come on-stream this year. Jubilee has received funding terms from a major financial institution for the debt element of the project financing required to bring its platinum projects into operation.

So, if everything goes to plan, Jubilee should be a fully functioning platinum producer by the end of 2016 giving investors a concrete timeframe with which to judge Jubilee’s management.

Hitting targets

Xtract has transformed itself into one of AIM’s most exciting small businesses over the past year. Indeed, the company has acquired a number of small mining assets for attractive prices, which have short payback periods.

City analysts expect Xtract to report a pre-tax profit of £2.9m for full-year 2016, the company’s first profit in more than five years. On a per share basis, forecasts suggest Xtract could earn 0.02p this year, which implies that the firm’s shares are trading at a forward P/E of 9. If everything goes to plan and Xtract meets City forecasts, the company could be a great long-term investment for your portfolio.

A long way to go

Lastly, 88 energy, which surged last week following the release of the latest results from the Icewine well. Unfortunately, when compared to the likes of Jubilee and Xtract, 88 Energy looks like the odd one out. The company still has a long way to go before it can claim to be on the verge of production, and funding for its flagship Icewine project could still be an issue.

Overall, Xtract has shown over the past 12 months that the company can be trusted to meet its output goals and generate a return for investors. With this impressive record behind it, Xtract looks to be the best AIM champion.

With production targets in place and financing secured, Jubilee comes a close second.

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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.