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2 small-cap stocks growing at ASOS-like speed

It’s likely that most UK investors are aware of just how successful ASOS has been in the last decade. Indeed, the online clothing champion is forecast to generate sales of £1,922m this year, an incredible rise from the mere £43m sales the company saw 10 years ago.

Given that 10 years ago ASOS shares could be bought for 122p, I have no doubt there are some very happy, and wealthy, long-term shareholders out there. The shares change hands for 6,000p today, meaning that £5,000 invested a decade ago would be worth an unbelievable £245,900 today.

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Are there any smaller companies growing at a phenomenal speed today? Absolutely. Take a look at these two fast-movers. 

Healthcare opportunity 

Tristel (LSE: TSTL) is a UK-based manufacturer of infection prevention and contamination control products. The company’s proprietary technology is a chlorine dioxide formulation that has applications such as infection control in hospitals and contamination control in the pharmaceuticals industry.

Over the last five years, revenue has grown from £9.3m to £17.1m and earnings per share in this time have risen almost five-fold, increasing from 1.2p in FY2011 to 5p last year. Analysts forecast this growth to continue in 2017, with earnings predicted to rise 43% to 7.2p per share.

Interim results in February were strong, with revenue rising 22%, overseas sales jumping 45% and adjusted earnings per share up 14% to 3.3p. The company aims to grow sales by 10%-15% on average over the next three years and also to return surplus cash to investors in the form of special dividends. Chairman Francisco Soler stated that shareholders can “confidently look forward to their company’s further progress and growth in the years ahead.”

Adding weight to the bull case is Tristel’s impressive return on equity of 23% and the fact that the company has no debt. Furthermore, the chairman owns around 20% of the firm, meaning that management is incentivised to boost shareholder returns.

Tristel shares have enjoyed an excellent run in the last five years, surging from 33p to 210p and at the current share price, trade on a forward looking P/E ratio of a lofty 29.3. Is that good value? While the company looks to have excellent growth potential, that valuation is a little on the high side for me, so I’ll be leaving Tristel on my watchlist for now and taking another look if the share price pulls back a little. 

Strong momentum 

Another small-cap growing at breakneck speed is motor industry testing systems specialist AB Dynamics (LSE: ABDP). Indeed, over the last five years the company has grown revenue and earnings by an impressive 26% and 16% per year respectively.

AB Dynamics only listed on the London Stock Exchange around four years ago, but investors who have held since the listing will have done well, the stock rising around 574% in this time.

City analysts have pencilled-in revenue of £24.5m and earnings of 22.9p per share for FY2017 and management recently said it has a good forward order book for the rest of 2017 and well into 2018, “which gives us confidence in meeting market expectations.”

On a forward-looking P/E ratio of 25.3, the valuation is not in bargain territory, however AB Dynamics appears to have strong momentum at present. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the share price uptrend continue.

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Edward Sheldon has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended ASOS. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.