Based on trading patterns, it appears that some investors who use the Robinhood investing platform are interested in beaten-down companies that could soar back to life. It's a risky strategy, but it can deliver life-changing returns if things go as planned.

Let's explore the reasons why two widely held stocks on the platform -- General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) -- could potentially skyrocket by pivoting to new growth opportunities. 

1. General Motors

With a share price of $53 at the time of writing, General Motors has recovered substantially from its 52-week low of $14.33 a share. But with a market cap of just $75 billion, the stock still looks dirt cheap when compared to its electric-vehicle manufacturing rivals. The market might be underestimating GM's electric vehicle opportunity, and shares could surge as the business picks up speed.

City skyline with upward stock chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

Consulting firm Deloitte expects global electric vehicle sales to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29% to 31.1 million units a year by 2030 as consumers switch away from internal combustion vehicles. With such a fast-growing opportunity, it's no surprise that investors are willing to assign big valuations to the current front runner. 

Tesla trades at 200 times forward EPS, while GM at just nine times its forward earnings, potentially making the stock a good deal compared to its high-flying rival.

Management for General Motors said the automaker plans to end production of all diesel and gasoline-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs by 2035 and is spending $27 billion to develop 30 new electric and autonomous vehicles by 2025. Management has also launched a new business unit called BrightDrop that will focus on the commercial side of the EV industry.

So far, BrightDrop has developed an electrically powered moving pallet called EP1 and a commercial electric van called EV600, with plans to deliver 500 vehicles to FedEx later this year. 

2. Virgin Galactic 

It might be an understatement to say Virgin Galactic "could" skyrocket because it is already soaring. Swept up in the marketwide frenzy for heavily shorted companies, shares in this space tourism business have risen by a very strong 105% year to date. But with a market cap of just $12.6 billion, the stock still looks affordable compared to its long-term potential. 

Virgin Galactic is hard to value because it isn't generating revenue or earnings yet -- nor does it have any publicly traded competitors. But analysts at UBS project the space industry to reach $805 billion by 2030 -- with space tourism and hypersonic point-to-point travel worth $3 billion and $20 billion per year in revenue, respectively.

Rocket soaring above the clouds

Image source: Getty Images.

Virgin Galactic's suborbital flight technology has a wide range of use cases, aside from just tourism. The company's Spaceship Two spaceplane can transport payloads for NASA, along with paying human customers. Virgin Galactic is also working with engineering company BMW-owned Rolls Royce to develop a hypersonic space vehicle designed to transport passengers at speeds up to Mach 3. 

Virgin Galactic has already completed 27 of the 29 testing elements required by the FAA to fly paying customers, and it has rescheduled its previously aborted test mission to mid-February. Management claims to have identified and fixed the problem that caused the computer to fail to connect and trigger the engine's failsafe mechanism during the initial test flight in December. 

With risk comes reward

General Motors and Virgin Galactic are two great bets for Robinhood investors looking for potentially life-changing returns in the stock market. Both companies enjoy massive growth drivers but trade at low prices relative to their potential. Virgin Galactic seems to be the higher risk/reward bet because it operates in the brand new space tourism industry, while GM has a legacy automotive business to fall back on if its electric pivot doesn't go as planned.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.