The market's freshman quarter was a good one. The S&P 500 soared 12% during the first three months of 2012, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq managed a nearly 19% spurt. Investors won't look a gift quarter in the mouth: Over that period, these two indices far outperformed what they've historically averaged for an entire year.
The quarter was so strong that there are even a handful of companies (and one fund) that saw their share prices more than double through the past three months. Let's take a closer look at some of those winning investments from the three major market exchanges.
Firsthand Technology Value Fund (SVVC): +176%
Facebook's decision to go public has benefited this closed-end fund in a huge way in 2012.
Firsthand Technology Value began 2012 with 82% of its net asset value of $23.92 per share resting in cash, but it has been snapping up shares of Facebook from insiders and ex-employees who were cashing out on secondary market exchanges.
Firsthand now owns 600,000 shares. We may find out as soon as next month if it was the right move, since Facebook appears to be heading for a May IPO. The fund went from trading at a compelling discount to its asset value to a seemingly unsustainable premium during the quarter, but that will ultimately have to be decided by Facebook's performance.
Tudou (TUDO): +169%
China's second largest video-streaming website soared in March after agreeing to be acquired by its larger rival.
Youku (YOKU) agreed to exchange 1.595 of its American depositary shares for every single share of Tudou. The end result is that Youku was offering to buy Tudou at more than twice what the market felt that the website operator was worth.
Buyouts do take place at premiums, but you rarely see this kind of markup on a deal. However, Youku saw that Tudou was starting to catch up with it after a deal last year with Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo.
Guidewire Software (GWRE): +137%
This provider of software solutions for property and casualty insurers wasn't even trading a year ago. The company went public in January at $13 a share.
There was plenty of buzz ahead of its debut, but Guidewire became the best performing IPO of the first quarter after posting better than expected quarterly results last month.
Investors should always pay attention to the first few quarters of recently public companies. Their performance then helps let the market know if the company has legs or if it was simply trying to go public as an exit strategy because its fundamentals were peaking.
Guidewire appears to be the real deal -- for now.
VIVUS (VVUS): +129%
Obesity is a growing epidemic in this country, and there are several hungry biotechs hoping to drum up treatments. VIVUS is among them, with its drug Qnexa.
VIVUS scored a major victory when a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval for Qnexa by a convincing 20-2 vote.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN): +119%
The diabetes-drug company was already having a strong quarter before it rejected a $3.5 billion buyout offer from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY).
Amylin also recently received regulatory approval of Bydureon, a weekly version of its popular type 2 diabetes drug Byetta.
Sears Holdings (SHLD): +108%
The parent company behind Sears and Kmart has been a retail disappointment for years, but sometimes pessimism can be overdone.
Sears may never be great again, but it's learning to live with the hand that it has been dealt. It's closing down underperforming stores and may wind up selling Lands' End and some of the smaller concepts that it has acquired alone the way.
Value hounds also argue that there's a compelling real estate play here.
Carmike Cinemas (CKEC): +103%
If it was unlikely for Sears stock to double over the past three months, imagine the odds against it happening for a multiplex operator.
You have to go back 16 years to find the last year when exhibitors sold as few movie tickets as they did in 2011. However, the outlook for 2012 is considerably rosier, and last month's debut of The Hunger Games delivered the third-strongest opening weekend in this country's theatrical history.
Banking on the next double
Even if the market has another strong three months don't expect any of these stocks to double again. An equity doubling in back-to-back quarters is extremely rare. However, if the market remains buoyant and the fundamentals of these investments remain intact, there's no reason why they can't continue to pad their gains over time.
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Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article.