Seeking stocks that others ignore, shun, or simply forget gives individual investors like you an edge over the professionals. Getting in before Wall Street discovers them -- or rediscovers them -- means that you can stake a claim before they start taking off.
Here we check out companies with minimal analyst coverage at best, and then pair our list with the opinions of the Motley Fool CAPS community. A stock that garners CAPS' top ratings, but hasn't yet caught analysts' attention, could be your next home run investment.
Gyroscopic sensor maker InvenSense (Nasdaq: INVN ) could be that one. Only two of the analysts who CAPS tracks follow this stock and, while both think it will outperform the broad indexes, all but one of the 76 All-Star CAPS members weighing in on it see it beating the Street, as well. That may be enough to give you a head start.
But remember: without much analyst support, you'll have to do more digging on your own to see whether it deserves a spot in your portfolio. Don't just buy or sell it based solely on its appearance here.
Hiding in plain sight
Despite having lost a quarter of its value over the last six months, InvenSense still trades nearly a third higher than it did at the start of the year, and it's 80% higher than where it IPO'd back in November. This all means that there's still plenty of room to run for this motion processing chipmaker that finds its output in tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, and even remotes for "smart TVs."
According to the market researchers at NPD, tablet computers will overtake notebook PCs by 2016. Mobile PC shipments are expected to hit 809 million units by then, but tablets are forecasted to account for 416 million of them, up from 121 million in 2012, a 36% compound growth rate. In contrast, notebooks will grow only from 208 million to 393 million, just 17% annually.
InvenSense's gyroscopes and accelerometers are found in handsets from Samsung, HTC, and LG, though it has yet to break through into Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) products. Still, the Android platform is dominant, with over 56% of the market, followed distantly by Apple's iOS, at 22.9%.
It just made a unique appearance in Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) new Nexus 7 tablet, where it installed a combined gyro-accelerometer. According to one analyst, only one other company has done something like that, STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM ) , which has one in Samsung's Galaxy III smartphone.
However, despite the gains that other tablet makers have made, Apple is the dominant force here, owning 63% of the market, with Samsung even further behind in second, at just 7.5%, according to NPD.
A chip so big it's a gouge
Right now, it's still riding the right horse in the race, as three-quarters of its revenues come from smartphones. While it had to reduce the high end of its earnings guidance because of a well-publicized components shortage at Taiwan Semiconductor that's rippled through the industry, affecting the outcomes of Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) , Samsung, and even Apple, it was still able to turn in respectable numbers, and offer a second-quarter forecast that was well above consensus estimates. There's greater uptake of its newest Motion Interface offerings, indicating it will rise as that technological revolution widens. First-quarter sales totaled $39.2 million, with profits of $7.7 million, or $0.09 per share.
Even though InvenSense is off its 52-week highs, that doesn't mean it's particularly cheap. The market's assigned it a multiple of 50 times its earnings, more than twice its projected growth rate. And look at its enterprise value: it's trading at 28 times the free cash flow it's generating, almost three times the level I like to see when considering whether a stock is a bargain.
I agree with CAPS member callumturcan when he says "smartphones, tablets, growth, oh my," indicating that InvenSense has its thumb in all the right pies. But should we be paying up so much for that potential?
Sure, STM has the benefit of Apple's moat, but it's not an impregnable fortress, and the field is so wide open, that both can still profit.
I like its prospects, and rated it to outperform on CAPS. Let me know on the InvenSense CAPS page, or in the comments box below, if you agree it will keep its balance and land on both feet.
Swing for the fences
Admittedly, Apple is one of the greatest plays in all of tech, and could be ready to make a new run of its own. The Fool also has a new premium research report on this particular stock covering what's in store for the next year. You can get the free report and 12 months of free updates by downloading your copy today.