For many investors, a search for new growth stocks often starts (and often ends) with the consideration of companies most familiar to them. Anyone who owns an iPhone is at least a bit familiar with its manufacturer, Apple. Amazon is another top-of-mind growth name. Even if you're not a customer, it's tough not to know of the company's -- and the stock's -- storied success.

The thing is, there's a slew of great growth stock stories out there that many investors have yet to hear about. Here are three under-the-radar prospects to check out.

United Microelectronics

Does the global chip shortage have you down? It has certainly taken a toll on some of the market's most notable tech names like Intel and Samsung, both of which recently reported quarterly results that were crimped by inadequate supplies of critical components. Chipmakers are working feverishly to meet unexpectedly strong demand, but it's not easy or cheap for most foundries to simply add production capacity.

This is a scenario, however, where smaller and more nimble semiconductor manufacturers may be in an ideal position to take some market share from bigger outfits. Perhaps the best prospect among these smaller chipmakers is United Microelectronics (NYSE:UMC).

A rising, digital stock chart being plotted by a businessman.

Image source: Getty Images.

Taiwan-based United Microelectronics can make almost any chip the technology industry needs, but its core strength is logic and mixed-mode radio signal solutions (mixed-mode just means the component can handle analog and digital circuits, transposing such signals as needed). The good news is these sorts of chips account for about half the overall chip market. More relevant right now, United Microelectronics is planning on spending $1.5 billion on capacity improvements this year, and it has budgeted $3.6 billion worth of investments in increased capacity through 2023.

Too little, too late?

It's true that the most painful phase of the shortage is under way right now with easing expected to take shape in the latter half of this year. Easing isn't the same as ending, though, and Intel's CEO Pat Gelsinger fears the shortage could last past 2022, echoing worries from Taiwan Semiconductor CEO C. C. Wei. If they're right, United Microelectronics' capital expenditures will be money well spent even if they need some time before they start bearing fruit.

In the meantime, this lesser-known stock is in good position to rally out of a five-month rut once other investors learn of its plan to help solve an industrywide problem.

BigCommerce

Most in-the-know investors have heard of Shopify, the company keeping Amazon on its toes by offering business owners a means of establishing their own online stores rather than limiting them to listings on a marketplace owned by someone else.

Did you know, however, Shopify isn't the only outfit offering this solution? A smaller company called BigCommerce (NASDAQ:BIGC) is in the game as well, and it's finding similar success. First-quarter revenue was up 41% year over year, and while the bottom line is still in the red, its first-quarter adjusted operating loss was more than cut in half compared to the prior-year period.

Revenue growth should cool off through the remainder of 2021 to 30% for the full year, according to management's outlook, and analysts believe this trend will continue as growth slows to 22% in 2022. But BigCommerce is making progress on another important front -- given its outlook, the company should swing to a profit some time in 2023. The market's apt to buoy the stock as the company makes progress toward that goal.

And don't think for a minute BigCommerce has merely been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. It's impressed some high-profile users of its online store software. Ben & Jerry's, Gillette, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are just a sampling of the organizations that have chosen this company's platform over plenty of other options.

MercadoLibre

Finally, add MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI) to your list of growth stocks you may have never heard of but should know about.

It's often called the Amazon of Latin America, and while that's not a bad description, it is an incomplete one. MercadoLibre is also akin to eBay in that it facilitates online auctions, and it also mirrors PayPal with its online payment service that can be used outside of its own selling platforms. It's got a presence in 18 Latin American countries and is a market leader in most of them.

And it's growing! The company is serving 62% more active active accounts than it was serving at this point in 2020, and they're all spending more. Last quarter's 158% top line improvement to $1.38 billion (excluding currency fluctuations) was lifted by a 129% improvement in online payment volume and 114% growth in gross merchandise volume. That's the scale investors have been waiting on as the operating income of $91 million reversed the $30 million loss booked in the first quarter of last year. Not much more is expected for the current year on the profit front with the consensus 2021 earnings estimate last marked at $0.14 per share. Next year's projected sales growth of 39%, however, sets up what analysts believe will be per-share profit of $4.91 for the same year.

Too bold? Not really. S&P Global's recently upped 2021 GDP growth outlook for Latin America's six biggest economies now stands at 4.9%, to be followed by 2.8% growth in 2022. Moreover, eMarketer estimates Latin America's retail e-commerce industry will be the world's fastest-growing market this year, expanding at a clip of 37%. 

Given this tailwind, the stock's 30% pullback from January's peak price looks like an entry opportunity.

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.