You don't need the investing acumen of Warren Buffett or the riches of a trust fund baby to achieve financial success.

Because the stock market is your best hope for realizing your dreams, start investing today, by putting away small sums of money every month. Then seek out undervalued small-cap stocks for your greatest returns. I like these stocks because they offer opportunities for growth, while still being mostly overlooked by the big investors.

To find these future giants, we'll screen for stocks with market values less than $3 billion, an earnings surprise of 15% or more in the previous quarter, and forecasts for long-term earnings growth of at least 15%. We'll filter our findings through the collective wisdom of the 170,000 members in our Motley Fool CAPS community. If the best and brightest CAPS players think these stocks hold potential, we ought to take notice, too.

Here are some of the stocks this simple screen found:


Market Cap

EPS Surprise

Average Analyst 5-Year EPS Estimate

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX) $1.7 billion $0.15 vs. $0.09 25% ****
Melco Crown Entertainment (Nasdaq: MPEL) $3.0 billion $0.03 vs. ($0.01) 30% ****
ZAGG (Nasdaq: ZAGG) $189 million $0.16 vs. $0.13 28% *

Source: and Motley Fool CAPS.

Of course, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- just a starting point for more research. We need to look more closely at these companies to see whether analysts' faith in them is well-founded. Still, because the CAPS community's helping us out, its favorite selections might be a good place to begin.

An alternative opportunity
There are certain parallels between the rollout of 3-D television and the previous HDTV rollout. It took a little time to build up a critical mass, and then the change was sweeping. Makers of HDTVs had the benefit of a forced migration. When TV signals switched from analog to digital, upgrading to a new set made sense for consumers.

Yet analogies can only go so far, and investors looking at set makers like Sony (NYSE: SNE) or Panasonic as plays on 3-D TV need to be aware of the limitations of those comparisons. There's no similar current pushing 3-D TV along, and though you need to wear ridiculously expensive glasses to watch a 3-D show, there's no similar accessory required for HDTV. Those are two important differences that may very well slow the adoption of 3-D TV.

Theater operators like IMAX and 3-D cinema providers like RealD are probably less affected by the rollout of 3-D TV. Dolby Labs (NYSE: DLB), which provides the sound standards on TVs -- regardless of the technology offered -- but also offers 3-D cinema systems, likely will be neutral here. While IMAX is preparing for the eventual mass adoption of 3-D television by launching its own channel, its main moneymaker will be its theaters, and the slow evolution of small-screen viewing should help bolster results at the big screen. CAPS member Grumpee says that's fine.

This is a very profitable company which will double in size in the next couple of years. Every theatre in the world is converting to digital projection and 3-D and IMAX is the premium experience in the category.

I'll drink to that
"Macau, baby!" doesn't have the same ring or cachet, but for investors in gambling operations like Melco Crown Entertainment or Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS), it sounds just like hitting the slot-machine jackpot.

Since earlier this summer, Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson has been expecting the Chinese gambling mecca to experience 30% growth in the second half of 2010 (after growing 67% over the first six months), and analysts are forecasting double-digit growth for 2011 and 2012.

And with Melco as the resident gambling house in Macau, some CAPS members are betting that it will prosper alongside the area. With nearly 1,300 members weighing in on Melco, 96% see it outperforming the broader market averages.

You can offer your opinion on the Melco Crown Entertainment CAPS page.

Man the ramparts
How about 26 million iPads and 63 million iPhones? With estimated sales numbers like that for Apple next year, it's hard to imagine that ZAGG, which makes protective covers and accessories for electronic devices, won't have increasing sales, too. With the stock up nearly 250% over the past six months, it's easy to see that betting against the gadget maker has been a worse bet than laying your money down on black at one of Melco's casinos.

CAPS All-Star IgnorantFool77 says those kinds of numbers, combined with enviable valuations, make ZAGG an excellent investment.

Manufacturer of protective films and cases for iPods, iPhones, and other hand held devices. These devices are not going anywhere, and if anything they will continue to become more proliferated in our society as people (other than me) begin using them for more aspects of their lives.

Excellent projected growth, PEG under 1, excellent ROE, and high margins. Lots to like about this company and it's stock!

You can add ZAGG to the Fool's free portfolio tracker to keep an eye on what other signals it's sending.

Foolish final thoughts
Stock investing is not brain surgery. Finding good, undervalued companies is not as difficult as the professionals want you to think. You just have to commit to starting now, and do so regularly. Now's the time to begin!

IMAX is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple and Dolby are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Melco Crown is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Rich Dupreydoes not have a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.