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The obscure tech stock that’s nearly quadrupled this year – and could keep rising

The name "Applied Optoelectronics" may not immediately grab investors' attention, but among momentum-motivated traders, the stock's performance ought to turn plenty of heads.

With a rise of 279 percent this year, Applied Optoelectronics is easily the best performing stock in the broad S&P 1500 index, which is composed of all the stocks in the S&P 500 as well as small- and mid-caps. The fiber-optic networking products company is also the index's best performer over the past year, during the course of which it has risen 649 percent.

Actually, comparing AOI to the other stocks in that index is perhaps a bit unfair, since it was not in the S&P 1,500 for most of that time. AOI was only added to the small-cap S&P 600 in April, shortly after the company's market value first broke above $1 billion in March.

For Raymond James' Simon Leopold — who has maintained a "strong buy" rating on the stock since his firm helped lead AOI's 2013 initial public offering — the recent increase in investor attention has been notable.

"It's been under the radar for quite a few people," Leopold told CNBC's "


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