Last week, I challenged the Foolish community to join me in drumming up a $99 portfolio. I had selected six stocks that I liked, in which a share apiece would add up to roughly $99 before commissions. I then asked readers to submit their own mock portfolios.
You came through with nearly three dozen entries. That pretty much shot down my original plan to discuss all of the submissions. With so many great ones to choose from, I would have to go through volumes of commentary pages to cover all of them.
That's why I will focus instead on the impulse stocks that some of you chose. Unless you happened to have been smitten by a half-dozen stocks trading in the mid-teens, odds are you had to dig into some low-priced stocks to complete the exercise. At an average price of $16.50 to get to $99, that's perfectly understandable.
Now, these low-priced stocks aren't as important in the game as the big-ticket entries are. Ralph, a respondent who goes by the handle "Zuzufool," emailed to point that fact out to me, and he is certainly correct. If you have a $50 stock and a $5 stock, it will take an 11-bagger move on that $5 to appreciate by the same amount as the $50 company merely doubling. That is why this game proved to be challenging to some -- it involved just a single share of each of the six stocks.
Still, this exercise got many of you thinking about low-priced stocks, so let's go over some of the more popular single-digit-priced picks. At least two of you selected these six stocks. (Tuesday's closing prices are used below.)
Sirius Satellite Radio
This was one of my original picks, but it also proved to be the most common selection: Six of the submitted $99 portfolios featured the fast-growing satellite radio provider. Sirius is looking to have 3 million subscribers to its digital radio service by the end of the year. That number becomes even more impressive when you consider that Sirius wrapped up September with just 2.17 million subscribers.
Like Sirius, Lucent is a regular barfly on the lists of most actively traded stocks. That's in large part due to its low stock price: More shares need to be bought and sold to add up to material positions. Then again, Lucent is also prolific. The telecom equipment giant is always making sure that everyone stays connected. However, you have to go back nearly five years to find the last time the stock traded in the double digits -- and that's despite the company's ability to remain consistently profitable over the past two years.
Another low-priced favorite, JDS Uniphase was trading in the triple digits five years ago. Back then, many believed that the company's fiber-optic future and spendthrift corporations would catapult JDS higher into the stratosphere. It didn't happen. The bubble popped. The outlook may still be a bit cloudy for JDS, but it's at least barreling toward the future with a cash-rich balance sheet. That always comes in handy.
I can definitely see why a few of you went with Elan. The drugmaker got slammed viciously not once but twice earlier this year, because of the shortcomings of its Tysabri multiple sclerosis drug. However, it has since started to bounce back nicely off its springtime swoon. That doesn't mean that the stock is going to be thrust back toward its all-time highs, but it presents the kind of volatility that may work out well in a stock-picking game like this.
We got a pair of votes for the pioneer in digital video recorders. I'm a big fan of TiVo, so I was nodding along with this one. The Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection has fallen on some hard times lately. It looked as though it was mustering a monster turnaround when it began emphasizing its high-margin software licensing side over its profit-busting hardware side, but then it reversed course over the summer. It was an unfortunate tactical move for TiVo, though the brand name is still golden. I haven't given up on TiVo, and apparently I'm not alone.
I didn't need laser vision correction surgery to notice that NovaMed was another popular selection. NovaMed does specialize in LASIK, but its collection of ambulatory surgery centers performs many other operations as well. It is consolidating a highly fragmented sector, and that usually spells opportunity. The company has been profitable, with earnings soaring 57% higher on a 32% spike in revenue through the first six months of the year.
$99 well spent
Despite the many entries, I will be tracking them all. A year from now, I'll take some time to single out some of the better-performing submissions. And I'll also reflect on how my picks from last week panned out.
Even if it may have seemed ludicrous at first to limit a portfolio to single-share portions and $99 in spending money, an experiment can be a good one if it helps you broaden your investing horizon by seeking out new stocks.
If seeking out new stocks is something that appeals to you, today may be your lucky day. The November issue of Motley Fool Rule Breakers comes out later today (Wednesday, Oct. 19). Inside, you will find our two latest growth-stock picks. Will they be part of your $99 portfolio? You won't have to fork over a penny to find out, since you can still take advantage of a free 30-day trial subscription before you make the commitment.
Invest for tomorrow. Keep the change.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares of any of the companies in this article. He is a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its stage of defiance. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors .