There's a new sensation that is literally sweeping 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, 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 at this time last year? Did you know that this creator, iRobot, is also the brainy outfit behind the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, as well as a military-contracted provider of surveillance robots that are saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan?
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 money in matrimony
How well do you know The Knot
That's okay. The Knot is doing fine without you, thanks to the 2 million visitors hitting its site every month in search of that opulent banquet hall, the wedding singer that won't go flat, and everything else for the big day.
Until recently, unless you were willing to pay for a wedding planner, preparing for that special day was limited mostly to the service providers you encountered at the weddings of friends and family. Thanks to The Knot, the wealth of that information now spans the length of anyone with an opinion and an online connection.
Add it all up, and what have you got? That's right, another stock that is cooler than you, my friend. The Knot is juicily profitable, and even analysts can't seem to keep up with this cool kid. The company has beaten analyst profit estimates by a thunderous 60% average over the past four months.
The Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service has recommended both iRobot and The Knot on behalf of its growing community. Many of the stocks have rattled off huge gains. The Knot, for instance, is trading 42% higher since it was singled out just four 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 that are speeding up websites' content delivery, giving police forces a less lethal tool in the fight against crime, and changing how we live and work in many more ways.
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.
Even if you don't want to spend time at your nearby megamall, you can still look at same-store sales to unearth companies like Citi Trends
Quintessentially cool investing can certainly pad your wallet. Despite recent weakness, Rule Breakers recommendation XM Satellite Radio
You can't spell "school" without "cool"
This doesn't mean 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. But 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. XM is growing blazingly quickly, 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 in a way that will pay off big-time for the company in the future. Great discoveries aren't always gold mines. 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 throughout the 1990s, scooping up companies like Iomega
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, which is free, if you want to check it out first.
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.
This article was originally published on Jan. 25, 2006. It has been updated.
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. TiVo, Starbucks, and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool has adisclosure policy. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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