Investing can often be a popularity contest since hot stocks tend to draw a crowd. Some of the best returns, however, often come from stocks that haven't yet caught the eye of Wall Street. That's because a stock's big gains are what tend to draw attention, which is why investors should try to find companies that haven't yet caused too much notice.
Three stocks that aren't even on Wall Street's radar yet are Tallgrass Energy (NYSE:TGE), Invitae Corporation (NYSE:NVTA), and MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM). Here's why these three Motley Fool contributors think these stocks could open up the door for investors who are looking where others aren't to potentially earn some outsized gains.
Investors won't want to miss this opportunity
Matt DiLallo (Tallgrass Energy): Pipeline company Tallgrass Energy remains well under the radar of both Wall Street and most investors. One reason for that is its relatively small size. At a $10 billion enterprise value, it's not as big as the cash flow produced by some of North America's more well-known pipeline giants.
However, what Tallgrass Energy lacks in name recognition and size it makes up for in growth potential. The company is currently working to develop a major oil pipeline and export project that would take crude from a storage hub in Oklahoma to global markets via the Louisiana coast. The pipeline company recently secured a key partner for the pipeline project and teamed up with a pipeline giant to expand an oil pipeline system further upstream. Those steps put Tallgrass closer to moving forward with these needle-moving projects, which positions it to potentially grow earnings from a run rate of around $800 million last year up to more than $1.25 billion by 2020.
In addition to that growth potential, Tallgrass Energy has two other compelling investment characteristics. First, the company's dividend yield is up to 8.9%, driven by the fact that its stock price has lost some value over the past year even though Tallgrass has increased its payout nearly 48% over that time frame. Meanwhile, the company trades at around 10 times cash flow, which is cheap compared with other pipeline stocks, even more so when factoring in its growth prospects.
Because Wall Street hasn't noticed Tallgrass Energy just yet, investors can scoop up this high-yielding and fast-growing pipeline stock for an excellent value these days, setting themselves up to potentially earn high-octane returns in the coming years.
Rapid growth is in this testing company's genes
Todd Campbell (Invitae Corp): Medicine is moving toward treatment approaches that depend on genetics, and that long-term, disruptive change offers significant potential tailwinds for Invitae, a provider of genetic testing services.
Invitae's already growing quickly. The company's billable test sales increased from 19,000 in 2015 to 57,000 in 2016 to 145,000 in 2017, and its billable tests totaled 206,000 in the first nine months of 2018, up from 86,500 in the comparable period of 2017. In January, management announced it had processed 302,000 samples in 2018, which is more than double the amount of samples it handled in 2017.
The surge in tests means sales are similarly shooting higher. Preliminary sales were $144 million in 2018, up from $68 million in 2017. Invitae expects to process about 500,000 samples and generate $220 million in revenue in 2019.
Importantly, volume growth is helping the company drive down costs, too. Its cost of goods sold dropped to below $250 per sample in Q4 2018, down from over $330 in 2017, and that has the company thinking it's in good shape to deliver on its midterm goal of generating operating cash flow.
Invitae faces competition from others, including large, deep-pocketed lab companies, but I think this market is big enough for Invitae to generate significant sales growth in the coming years, and if I'm right, then it won't be long before Wall Street wakes up to this opportunity.
The odds are in this stock's favor
Travis Hoium (MGM Resorts): It's been a while since Wall Street's titans were very interested in gaming stocks, partly because the sector has become fairly stagnant in the last few years. Explosive growth in Asia is in the rearview, financial engineering through REITs is largely complete, and there aren't any major new markets for the industry to enter. But that doesn't mean gaming stocks aren't attractive, and MGM Resorts is well positioned for long-term investors.
The core of MGM's business is still Las Vegas and its other domestic resorts, which accounted for 77% of $2.4 billion in property EBITDA -- a proxy for cash flow -- in the first three quarters of 2018. Most of the remainder comes from Macau, where MGM has a property on the Macau Peninsula and a new property called MGM Cotai that opened in February 2018. As MGM Cotai ramps, there's an opportunity for $300 million to $500 million of incremental EBITDA to be added to the company's $2.4 billion generated in the past year. That's billions of cash flowing off of already constructed casinos in the U.S. and Asia, which is what any investor should dream of.
For investors, the fact that MGM is generating billions in EBITDA and doesn't have any major growth projects in the pipeline means that it has extra cash to pay down debt or return cash to shareholders. That's exactly what it's doing now that it pays a small but growing dividend, which currently yields 1.6%. Now that MGM is trading at a reasonable enterprise value to EBITDA ratio of 13.7, has some incremental growth on the horizon, and pays a nice dividend, it's the kind of stock long-term investors should be adding to their portfolios, even if Wall Street isn't paying much attention to gaming stocks today.