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Related topics: growth stocks, transportation, mortgage, stock market, technology

Why do people gamble? The thrill of winning big, the chance to make a fortune by putting up just a little bit of money. Well, you can do the same with stocks, and if you pick the right ones, your odds are a lot better than they would be in a casino.

Here are some of the best low-priced stocks to consider. Each is trading below $7 per share.

Horizon Lines

Horizon Lines (HRZ) ships containers filled with building supplies, food and consumer goods to and from the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico.

The steady resurgence in shipping demand, coupled with Horizon's improving financials, suggests that the worst of the economic downturn is over for the Charlotte, N.C., company.

The stock is up about 37% over the past six months and could continue moving higher -- data show that more goods are being manufactured, and they need to be shipped. Horizon will be a big beneficiary of that.

Investors should consider buying the stock on pullbacks below $5 a share.

Local.com

Local.com (LOCM) is a specialist in paid-search advertising. Its search website, Local.com, attracts about 20 million unique visitors a month. It also operates a local syndication network of some 750 regional media sites, as well as a sales and advertiser services operation for its 50,000 direct monthly subscribers. The Irvine, Calif., company, one of the three fastest-growing companies in local online advertising, works with partners to offer daily online deals, coupons and retail offers.

The company swung to a profit in its fiscal third quarter as sales grew by 48% to $22.5 million and adjusted net income increased 249% to $4.6 million. That translated into some very nice margins, with adjusted net income margin coming in at 20%.

Local.com is growing at roughly twice the rate of its competition and is in a prime spot for one of the behemoths in the industry, such as Yahoo (YHOO) or Google (GOOG), to take a bite.

Investors should consider buying the stock under $6.70 a share, which is slightly below where it traded earlier this month before a big sell-off that dropped the price to $4.11 on Jan. 20.

Tii Network Technologies

Tii Network Technologies (TIII) makes surge-protection devices used by telecommunications companies to protect their equipment during lightning strikes and power surges.

Large telecommunications companies like Verizon Communications (VZ) are among its biggest customers. Other customers include DirecTV (DTV) and TE Connectivity (TEL).

As Verizon and other wireless carriers invest to upgrade to 4G networks, Tii's sales should remain strong.

Investors should consider buying the stock under $3. Because shares are thinly traded, it's worth considering use of a limit order within 10 cents of the previous day's closing price.

PMI Group

PMI Group (PMI) is one of the nation's largest providers of residential mortgage insurance, which protects lenders in case of borrower default.

Shares in the Walnut Creek, Calif., company could break out if the housing market improves. There has been some improvement in mortgage applications and housing inventory; interest rates remain low; and banks are starting to lend again.

The government's unwinding of support for mortgages also provides an opportunity for PMI.

Investors should consider buying the stock below $4.80 a share. The stock has been trading below that level since May.

Lionbridge Technologies

Lionbridge Technologies (LIOX) provides localization software and services that allow companies to tailor Web content and technology applications to individual languages and cultures.

The Waltham, Mass., company's focus is on technology that helps clients capture market share, increase return on their enterprise-application investments, boost work-force productivity and lower costs.

The 10 largest software companies and the five largest Internet portals use the company to help them internationalize their products and services. Its strong customer base helped the company weather the recession.

Technology spending is taking flight, and industry globalization is expanding rapidly. These trends should benefit Lionbridge Technologies.

Investors should consider buying the stock under $4.50 a share.

Express-1 Expedited Solutions

Express-1 Expedited Solutions (XPO) provides ground transportation services.

There is nothing exciting about the shipping business, but its growth can be exponential while the economy is barely improving because business conditions for shippers improve much more dramatically than the overall economy.

Express-1 could grow faster than other transportation companies from its tiny revenue base -- the Buchanan, Mich., company said third-quarter revenue rose 70% to $44.4 million, and that revenue for the first nine months of 2010 likewise was up 70% from the same period the previous year.

The stock soared after the third-quarter financial results were released, and it could post additional gains as shipping and freight companies rebound.

Investors should consider buying the stock below $3 a share.

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SMTC

SMTC (SMTX) provides contract electronics manufacturing services. The Canadian company supplies manufacturers with products that find their way into computer servers, networking devices and communications equipment.

SMTC said third-quarter sales rose 48% to $65.4 million and per-share earnings increased to 16 cents from 3 cents in the same quarter of 2009. Eight of its top 10 electronics manufacturing customers increased orders in the period, and five new customers placed orders worth $10 million.

The company is using its healthy cash flow to pay down debt, which has fallen to the lowest level in its history. SMTC is in an excellent position to profit from increasing electronics and technology demand.

Investors should consider buying SMTC below $4 a share.