My question two weeks ago was simple: If you could own only one, would you rather own Apple
I got a good cross-section of responses in the comments section. Apple fans argued in favor of its diverse line of real-world products, and the foreign potential the company's just beginning to tap. Google bulls countered that it's the better bet, because the Internet is guaranteed to grow, and Apple shares would take a hit if anything should ever happen to Steve Jobs.
One of the responses left me thinking, though.
"Both stocks are huge companies which are monitored under a microscope by analysts," tom2727 writes. "What advantage does the small guy have in buying either of these? There are plenty of small cap ideas that are off the Wall Street radar that would be much better investments than either of these stocks. The question I have is why would a small investor want to buy either Google or Apple?"
A universe of opportunities
Whittling down the investing process to one of two growth stocks wasn't a random exercise. The article's premise resulted from Apple's market cap catching up to a stagnant Google, at $150 billion.
In the near term, waiting to buy either company seems to have been the correct answer. Both companies are roughly $20 billion cheaper today.
You can't blame Apple or Google -- they've done their part. In just the past two weeks, Google introduced a Web browser, and Apple announced a refreshed iPod product line. The big holdout here is Mr. Market.
However, if even the primo large-cap growth stocks are taking big hits, this must be the mother of all opportunities to seek out smaller achievers, too. So let's open up the stock pool: What is the coolest company of any size that you own or wished you owned?
The question isn't rhetorical. Use the comment box at the bottom of this article to hit me with your best stock idea. I'll write a follow-up column, singling out some of the picks that I think are cooler than Arthur Fonzarelli.
In the spirit of sharing, let me offer up a few smaller stocks that I think are so cool, they should be smoking hot in your portfolio.
My own little rat pack
Apple and Google are as cool as cucumbers, but these stocks look even cooler to me:
(NASDAQ:BIDU): I'm so fond of China's leading search engine that I've recommended it twice to Rule Breakers subscribers. It may never be as big as Google on a global basis, but it's growing quickly as the dominant player in the world's most populous nation.
(NASDAQ:NFLX): Since I bought Netflix shares in 2002, I've seen it tackle DVD rental chains; now it's targeting digital-delivery behemoths. The company always seems to land on its feet, and it's positioned well no matter what the future of movie-watching brings.
(NASDAQ:TIVO): I've been a TiVo subscriber for a lot longer than I've been a shareholder, but I'm glad to be both. It took a while for the digital video recorder pioneer to poke its head into profitability, but it's done so two quarters in a row. Armed with a fat patent portfolio, it's now licensing its DVR technology to cable and satellite television providers. Like Netflix, TiVo is a brainy couch potato play.
(NASDAQ:ISRG): Robotics on the operating table seemed like Sci-Fi Channel fodder until the company's da Vinci surgical arm revolutionized the process. Now, hospitals are running more efficiently, and surgeons are less fatigued. Consistently blowing past Wall Street estimates over the past five years only increases Intuitive's coolness factor.
(NYSE:CRM): Cloud computing is huge, and this spunky enterprise software company raised the bar with its collection of economical, Web-stored business apps. It is being inducted into the S&P 500 this week -- like Intuitive Surgical was earlier this year -- so its hipness is not exactly a secret, but salesforce.com is the cover model for cloud-computing cool.
These cool beans aren't small potatoes; they range in market cap from just less than $1 billion to a little more than $10 billion. Still, they're certainly smaller and less followed than Apple or Google.
I've done my part; now it's your turn. What is the coolest stock you know? Find the comment box below and let me know, daddy-o.
Some other cool reads for you:
Intuitive Surgical, Google, and Baidu.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. Netflix and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't very cool. He's lukewarm at best. He does own shares in Netflix and TiVo. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy is the cat's pajamas.