It seems no sooner had America found its sweetheart in Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow that it upgraded to an even more compelling athlete in Jeremy Lin. It's not that Tim Tebow lacked the charisma or the dramatic wins to get millions to follow him week to week. It's that, arguably, he didn't have the skill set to make those around him better.
Jeremy Lin, on the other hand, has developed a cult-like following in a matter of just two weeks. A former bench-warmer, Lin had been released by the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets before fatefully landing with the New York Knicks and unleashing a Michael Jordan-esque schooling on his opponents over the past two weeks.
Lin possesses certain attributes that undeniably draw fans to him. These attributes are:
- Rising from obscurity.
- Possessing a unique skill set.
- Consistently outpacing expectations.
- The ability to make others around you better.
Lin captivated a nation by coming off the bench and showcasing his undeniable skills for the whole world to see. Not only that, but he's able to do it night after night while making his teammates around him better.
With that in mind, I took to the task of locating five companies that exhibit similar attributes to Lin. Some have already had their "Lin moments" while others are currently basking in them as we speak. But one thing is for certain: All five share the same formula for success that has transformed Jeremy Lin into a household name, and that could be a formula for "Lin-stantaneous success" in the stock market.
Here are my five choices for the Jeremy Lins of the stock market:
- Rise from obscurity -- Intuitive had no product to speak of prior to 1999 but has since cornered the market on robotic surgery with its da Vinci surgery system.
- Unique skill set -- Intuitive's da Vinci system has been sold to more than 1,400 academic and hospital sites, and it maintains the lion's share of a potentially multibillion-dollar market for robotic-assisted surgeries.
- Consistently outpacing expectations -- Intuitive has grown revenue annually at 37.6% over the past decade while regularly surpassing Wall Street's consensus EPS estimates (11 straight quarters, to be exact).
- Makes others better -- No metaphors here; Intuitive simply makes patients feel better. Its noninvasive surgeries mean shorter hospital stays and patients returning more quickly to work. This saves the hospitals, insurers, corporations, and patients a considerable amount of money.
- Rise from obscurity -- From pie-in-the-sky fuel-efficiency concepts in 1995, Westport has since developed partnerships with three of the five top engine companies and five out of six of the largest trucking companies.
Unique skill set -- Westport's patented technology allows gasoline-based engines to run on natural gas. This unique attribute prompted General Motors
(NYSE: GM)to sign a contract to have Westport build engines for its light-duty vehicles, with Ford following shortly thereafter.
- Consistently outpacing expectations -- You have to read beyond the box scores here since Westport isn't profitable as of yet (it's still in the process of "Linning"), but based on its projected 2013 revenue, it will have a five-year compounded growth rate of 37.7%.
- Makes others better -- Westport's technology is decreasing fuel costs without compromising efficiency and offering a clean-burning fuel alternative that is readily abundant. Its products should boost sales at Ford, GM, and diesel-engine producer Cummins, to name a few.
- Rise from obscurity -- Remember, just a decade ago Apple was on the precipice of irrelevance as its computer sales failed to keep up with PC rival Dell, and its software seemed archaic relative to Microsoft. Now, it's the largest company in the world.
- Unique skill set -- Apple has so many unique products and "firsts" that it would take an entire article just to list them all. The iPhone, iPod, and iPad have completely revolutionized the way we do business and interact with one another. Not to be forgotten either is the vision co-founder Steve Jobs brought to the table for so many decades.
- Consistently outpacing expectations -- One need only to look at Apple's most recent quarter to understand just how foolish this company makes Wall Street look. Apple reported a 128% increase in iPhone sales, a 111% pop in iPad sales, and a 620-basis-point jump in gross margin that translated into a 37% earnings beat.
- Makes others better -- No company has had its coattails ridden to success more than Apple. From Nuance Communications' voice technology to Cirrus Logic's audio chips and OmniVision Technologies' camera technology, Apple has practically taken the tech sector on its back and made many previously obscure names relevant.
- Rise from obscurity -- Life Technologies was just a $6.50 stock on April Fool's Day just 12 short years ago. Now, it's an $8 billion company with more than 4,000 patents and exclusive licenses with a presence in 160 countries.
- Unique skill set -- Although the company has myriad life sciences products (another list that would be too long to name), perhaps its most unique asset is its Ion Proton Sequencer, which can decode the human genome in just one day for $1,000. Previous technologies had taken weeks to decode the human genome and cost considerably more.
- Constantly outpacing expectations -- Life Technologies has surpassed Wall Street's expectations in 11 of the past 12 quarters and has grown revenue at an annualized clip of 19% over the past decade. Some of this growth can be attributed to the merging of Invitrogen with Applied Biosystems in 2008, but the organic growth rate is still phenomenal.
- Makes others better -- Like Intuitive Surgical, Life Technologies' life sciences products are drastically reducing costs and turnaround time for hospitals. This could lead to more research studies being conducted in significantly shorter time periods. Patients, hospitals, and clinical stage pharmaceutical companies are all going to reap the benefits of Life Technologies' products.
- Rise from obscurity -- In February 2004, Facebook was just being born. In February 2012, it sits upon the social-networking throne with 845 million users. Facebook is currently capturing 1 in 11 Internet sessions and is the destination of 1 out of every 5 page views.
- Unique skill set -- Although there is little barrier to entry, Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook has become the clear destination to connect with friends, family, and co-workers. Vendors are clamoring to advertise their products on Facebook with a majority of advertisers being local small businesses.
- Constantly outpacing expectations -- No one really expected that Facebook would continue to grow at its current pace. Most figured it would eventually fade like MySpace. That hasn't been the case. In fact, Facebook's user growth rate has averaged a blistering 134% annually over the past five years.
- Makes others better -- Like Apple, Facebook has taken the social media sector on its back. Zynga can thank Facebook for roughly 90% of its revenue, while local businesses across the U.S. can attribute a sharp surge in business to targeted page views on Facebook. Plus, who doesn't want to know what my status is right now?
These five stocks all have attributes like the ones that make Jeremy Lin a winner, and there's a strong possibility they could correlate to further gains in the stock market. What do you think?
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Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He's in it to Lin it. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, Microsoft, Cirrus Logic, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intuitive Surgical, Ford, General Motors, Westport Innovations, Cummins, Microsoft, Nuance Communications, and Apple, as well as creating a synthetic long position in Ford, writing covered calls in Dell, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that hits 100% of its free throws.