Over the next few weeks, a new sensation will literally sweep the nation. It's called a Scooba. Like something out of the future, this tiny circular homemaker navigates through the hard-floored areas of your home. It scoops up dirt. It gently scrubs and washes your floor with a special cleaning solution, never reusing dirty water like your old mop. It then dries it all off in a single pass.
The Scooba is going to be huge in 2006, and it's not just me saying that. Time magazine and the panelists at the Consumer Electronics Show have already festooned the Scooba with top innovation awards for the year ahead. The early reviews have been mere slivers away from ecstatic. Yes, it will set you back about $400, but think about it: Your floor will never be cleaner, and you'll win back some of that precious time you once squandered.
You may have already heard about this robotic godsend that will riddle your broom closet with cobwebs. Maybe. But did you know that the Scooba is being made by a wildly profitable company that you couldn't even buy into just a few months ago? Did you know that its creator, iRobot
Yes, owning iRobot may make you feel inadequate by comparison. You're waking up to Rice Krispies and a slice of buttered toast while iRobot is battling grime in your kitchen and fighting enemies abroad. Owning stocks that are cooler than you isn't always easy, but man oh man, it can be profitable when you pick 'em right.
Putting the "hip" in "hip replacement"
How well do you know Intuitive Surgical
The investment isn't taken lightly. Your basic robotic arm will run a surgical staff a hefty $1.3 million. There are also maintenance checks and replacement parts, sold and serviced only by Intuitive. However, the numbers don't lie. Install a da Vinci system, and surgeons are able to perform more procedures with less fatigue.
Have you noticed that most of the job ads tend to be for nurses? Demand outstrips supply, and retaining good help is critical. A da Vinci system may not have a primetime TV series on its resume, but it keeps administrators, doctors, and nurses happy by making the operating table more efficient and less stressful.
Add it all up, and what have you got? That's right, another stock that is cooler than you, my friend. Intuitive is posting huge profits, and even analysts can't seem to keep up with this cool kid. The company has beaten analyst profit estimates by a thunderous 71% through the first nine months of 2005. Another blowout quarter may very well be the prognosis for next week's fourth-quarter report.
The Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service has recommended both iRobot and Intuitive Surgical on behalf of its growing community. These market-thumping stocks have been on quite a run; Intuitive alone has seen its shares roughly triple since it was first singled out for Rule Breakers 10 months ago.
The ultimate growth newsletter service loves to run with the cool crowd before the crowd even knows it's cool. David Gardner and his team of analysts have uncovered promising stocks doing everything from speeding up websites' content delivery to giving police forces a less lethal tool in the fight against crime.
Finding fiscal Fonzies
Seeking out the market's next wave of Arthur Fonzarellis can be a lot easier than you think. You don't even need to go hunting alone. Peter Lynch found some of his best investing ideas by taking his wife and daughters to the mall. He leaned on them to guide him to the hottest concepts and social trends.
Do you know a young adult who isn't carrying around an iPod? Apple Computer
Another cool kid on the block has to be Hansen Naturals
Quintessentially cool investing can certainly pad your wallet. In October 2004, Sirius Satellite Radio
You can't spell "school" without "cool"
This doesn't mean that every nifty gadget is a winner. Apple was ahead of its time with the handheld Newton, and some of its Mac incarnations held up as decorativetableart as well as computing workhorses. It wasn't until the iPod galvanized the music-munching masses that it all started to come together for Apple investors. You also have companies like TiVo, which are languishing in the single digits despite pioneering the living room experience. Sirius is growing blazingly quick, but it's still years away from profitability.
So keep looking for cool stocks -- the right cool stocks. Find companies that are breaking the rules today, but doing so in a way that will pay off big-time for the company in the future. Great discoveries aren't always goldmines. Eli Whitney's cotton gin revolutionized the country, but it made Eli more of a historical footnote than a wealthy inventor. You've got to find Miss Congeniality and Most Likely to Succeed all in one. It's what David Gardner did through the 1990s, scooping up companies like America Online, Amazon.com, and eBay while they were just starting to don the black leather jackets and go "Ayyyyyy."
It's not as difficult as it may seem. If I can do it -- and I've got the fashion sense and social grace of a thimble -- you can, too. So lean on me and the rest of the hipper group of analysts that David Gardner has assembled in the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter experience. It's not free, but you'll be getting monthly stock picks, sector updates, lively discussion boards, and a sense that you belong with the cool crowd. There's also a 30-day trial subscription available if you first want to check it out for free.
With or without us, you've got what it takes to ride with the popular stocks. Rely on your instincts. Ask around. Follow it up with due diligence and you'll be on your way. Don't let Wall Street give you a wedgie ever again.
TiVo , Amazon.com, and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz would rather be a snappy investor than a snappy dresser. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.