Yes, shareholders of Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI ) : There is a Santa Claus, and his name is John Malone, chair of the Liberty empire. He saved Sirius from total ruin nearly two years ago by investing in the company just days before it would have gone bankrupt. Sirius stock has been on a tear since then, rising from about a nickel per share to more than $1.50 today -- a 30-bagger in less than two years. It doesn't take too many of those before you own a Caribbean archipelago.
But that stunning performance is NOT a reason you should be thrilled to own the stock now. In fact, you should do everything in your power to avoid getting warm fuzzies about that massive run-up. All that matters now is the future and whether the stock has priced that in.
Don't look back, I heard you say
So is Sirius a 30-bagger from here? Not likely. The company is already well too big with a $6 billion market cap. And there are some serious challenges for the satrad company, such as Pandora, which allows listeners an infinite variety of music at the low, low cost of free. And it's making its way onto Sirius's home turf, too: automobiles.
Finding the outperformers of tomorrow means looking where others aren't -- steering clear of some of the most popular stocks, and focusing on the future, rather than the past. So let's look at five very popular stocks right now and see why they're not likely to be massive gainers.
YRC Worldwide (Nasdaq: YRCW )
YRC's market cap sits right in a sweet spot for 30-bagger returns, at just $166 million, giving it plenty of room to ramp up. But this trucking company has taken a wrong turn. Its small size is not a hopeful sign but rather the market's more somber expectations for the company's survival (or lack thereof). From a split-adjusted price of more than $1,400 per share, the stock now sits at sofa change ($3.50). And recent moves are not very encouraging. The company has renegotiated its loans 19 times, yet all the cash it can generate still flows to the banks that made those loans. Over the past year, more money has gone to interest than comprises YRC's entire market cap. True, if YRC had a way out of its conundrum, the stock would rally hard. But things look pretty bleak right now.
Chimera (NYSE: CIM )
You'll never get a 30-bagger out of Chimera by waiting on capital gains, since the real-estate investment trust pays out almost all of its income as a dividend. So at its 16.5% yield, you'd have to endure about 22 years to get your 30-bagger, if you could reinvest all your dividends at that rate. But you can't. Chimera, which makes its money on the interest rate spread between short and long rates, does well in lean times like now. When times get more flush and rates go up, things will get tougher for Chimera; its payouts will fall, and so will its stock price. So don't look at Chimera's past yields; instead, look at its future yields.
Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB )
Allied Irish and YRC are in good company: They're effectively owned by their creditors. Allied was effectively nationalized last month, with the Irish government boosting its stake to 49.9% after investing 3.7 billion euros in the bank. That percentage will jump to nearly 93% as soon as the bank divests its Polish unit. The bank is required to raise 6.1 billion euros before March, and it is trying to buy up its junior bonds at a 70% discount to par in a bid to boost its capital ratio. Allied has penny-stock appeal, with shares at less than a buck. But the ongoing uncertainty in Ireland, along with austerity measures hurting the overall economy, makes an investment here little more than a gamble. This knife is still falling, but someday things will be clearer.
Altria (NYSE: MO )
Like Microsoft, Altria has been a massive gainer over the past few decades. Since 1970, it has returned 155,300% (dividend-adjusted). That's all well and good, but what have you done for me lately? Plenty, in fact. Since the start of 2009, it has returned 84% (dividend-adjusted). Altria has bumped its dividend up 11.8% in the past year and has promised to pay out 80% of its net income in the future. And smoking rates in the U.S. seem to have bottomed around 21% for the past half-decade -- more relatively good news. But with a stagnant market, Altria's size, and its dividend focus suggesting that its growth days are gone, this stock is not your father's Philip Morris.
So Altria's not going to be a 30-bagger any time soon. Big deal. Does it really matter when the company shells out such a huge and growing dividend? Let income investors have their peace...
SodaStream (Nasdaq: SODA )
Yes, SodaStream has its admirers. The company's products allow you to create your own carbonated soda or water, and I'd drink the bubbly water any day over the still. Some investors see SodaStream as the next Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR ) , but Green Mountain offers coffee that is cheaper than its premium peers and more convenient. In contrast, SodaStream offers a more expensive product than even name-brand sodas. Green Mountain has been a 30-bagger within the past decade, too.
Still, with SodaStream's recent entry into the U.S., it's not hard to see the stock growing from here, even if it's already priced at 35 times earnings. A few quarters of decent sales growth could really make this into an investor darling. But a 30-bagger from here? That would put the company at a $21 billion market cap, and if the market were that lucrative, you'd see copycats come along well before, distributing better-tasting flavors and compatible CO2 carbonators.
Where is the next 30-bagger?
To get the 30-baggers of tomorrow, you need to search for small caps that have a sustainable competitive advantage. Even better would be a value-priced company that is stealing top talent from the industry leader. In a special free report titled "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2011," we reveal a little company set to profit from the broadband Internet expansion. Get instant access by clicking here -- it's free. There's no guarantee that the stock will be a 30-bagger, but it is poised for greatness.