No-brainer stocks often refer to solid companies with a long track record of success. Buy them now, and you're almost sure to be rewarded in the future. But here, I'm taking a different angle. I'm talking about betting on tomorrow's potential success stories -- at a very low price. These stocks are no-brainer buys because your losses will be limited if things don't work out. Don't invest more than what you can afford to lose. But even with a small investment, you can win big if these companies reach their goals.
Here, I'll talk about a biotech with a game-changing way of delivering vaccines, a company with a different way of looking at the genome, and a company that may make the production of bacteria a big business. Let's take a closer look at each one.
Vaxart (VXRT -4.83%) has jumped onto some investors' radar screens because it's developing a coronavirus vaccine candidate. But the company has five other vaccine candidates in the pipeline -- including seasonal flu and norovirus candidates in phase 2 studies. The coronavirus candidate also is in phase 2. The company expects to report data in the first half of this year.
What's most exciting about Vaxart is what sets it apart from today's leading vaccine makers. That's the actual form of its vaccines. Vaxart is working on oral vaccines. They are in tablet form and taken with a glass of water. They're also room-temperature stable and small. These factors make Vaxart's candidates potential winners right out of the gate. Most individuals would love to avoid a shot. And the ease of transport and storage would please healthcare systems.
Vaxart hasn't yet commercialized a product. That remains a big risk. But if it proves that its method works and brings a product to market, this stock could skyrocket. Vaxart shares are down about 20% year to date and trading at about $5. Today's price makes it worth a small investment for investors looking for tomorrow's potential game-changer.
2. Ginkgo Bioworks
Ginkgo Bioworks (DNA 1.44%) makes custom organisms, such as bacteria, for clients across a wide range of fields -- from vaccine development to perfume creation and materials production. But the company doesn't just design an organism. At its foundries, it specializes in automating production processes. Clients often turn to Ginkgo when they want to boost speed and capacity. In 2020, Ginkgo helped Moderna optimize its production of the raw materials used in its coronavirus vaccine, which was still in development.
Ginkgo isn't yet profitable. But revenue from its foundry and biosecurity businesses is on the rise. Total revenue in the first nine months of last year soared 271% to $165.3 million. That's compared to the year-earlier period. Eight products from Ginkgo partnerships have been manufactured at scale. That's more than doubled from the previous year. In November, Ginkgo said it expected new programs for the full year to total 30.
The stock has dropped about 75% from its initial public offering in September. It trades for about $3. Wall Street expects the stock to more than triple in the coming 12 months, according to the average forecast. If Ginkgo continues to gain partnerships and generate revenue from products based on its platform, the future could be bright.
3. Bionano Genomics
Bionano Genomics (BNGO -1.37%) is in the business of genome mapping. It sells its Saphyr system and related tools for a process called optical genome mapping (OGM). This technique picks up structural variations in the genome that next-generation sequencing (NGS) systems often miss. These variations are responsible for diseases. OGM doesn't replace NGS. Instead, these technologies are complementary.
Bionano says last year was "transformational" for the company. The company's revenue surged more than 100% to $18 million for the full year. Bionano completed a prototype for a next-generation OGM system, which is meant to support high-volume users. Bionano expects to launch the eventual product in the first half of next year. Importantly, Bionano has gained users at academic medical centers worldwide, and research papers are supporting the use of OGM. Bionano predicts revenue growth of 33% to 50% for this year.
Despite the good news, Bionano shares have suffered. The stock has dropped nearly 24% so far this year to less than $3 a share. It's trading more than $3 below Wall Street's lowest 12-month share price forecast. Like the other stocks I've mentioned here, Bionano remains high-risk. To eliminate a bit of the risk, we still need to see a major wave of Saphyr adoption and at least a narrowing of the company's loss. But at today's price, it may be worth making a small bet on this company and its exciting technology.