I don't know what the foodie equivalent of an investor is, but I relish the deep-fried, carnivalesque, mobile-taco-truck fare that we call low-priced stocks -- the companies trading in the single digits that many investors like to ignore.
I've been singling out attractive opportunities in low-priced stocks since my original "5 Stocks Under $10" column nine years ago.
Yes, there are risks. Although the absolute price of a stock normally means little to us Fools (because the price tells you nothing about the value of the stock), those below 10 bucks usually got there because of some concern about their future.
Do some stocks that trade at value-meal prices implode? Absolutely. However, there's also a juicy upside when low-priced stocks succeed. Let's go over the five reasons I don't approach stocks trading in the single digits with a clothespin on my nose.
1. There's nothing wrong with flying beneath the radar
With the exception of ballyhooed IPOs and corporate spinoffs, most of Wall Street's darlings have modest origins. Why not catch them as early as possible?
How many investors missed the birth of the octane-packed energy drink market when Red Bull and Monster carved out a new industry? Too many, unfortunately. Investors who avoided Hansen because of its single-digit price were left with little choice but to buy later if they wanted in at all.
2. Turnarounds do turn around
Stocks fall from grace all the time. The stumbles aren't always permanent, even if it takes a long time for a stock to bounce back.
After several months of impressive auto sales, Ford appears unlikely to drive in reverse for now. Its prospects remain bright, even if rival GM is now glowing after paying back its bailout funds. Big-ticket items such as cars should continue to do well coming out of a recession, so investors should stop kicking themselves for missing Ford last year and start kicking the tires instead.
3. A low price doesn't mean it's a small company
If you want to stump any financial know-it-alls at your next cocktail party, ask them how many of 30 Dow Jones Industrial Averages were trading in the single digits 13 months ago.
They are going to aim too low. A whopping six Dow 30 components fell below the $10 mark in March of 2009, including market bellwethers General Electric
All three of those stocks -- and four of the six -- are now trading comfortably above the $10 mark. GE, Amex, and Bank of America were all lumped into the financial-services cooties box, but they have all bounced back nicely.
Bank of America will naturally be at the mercy of banking regulation, so its future may be a bit hazier than the more diversified GE and American Express. It's hard not to like GE and Amex at this point, since a buoyant recovery will create greater demand for GE financing and Amex card swiping.
4. Growth stocks can trade in the single digits
If you're skilled enough to pick up on a hot investing trend before the rest of the market does, low-priced growth stocks may be everywhere.
I'm part of the analyst team for the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service. This is an aggressive growth-stock-picking collective that finds disruptive growth stocks before the rest of the planet catches on.
We've recommended more than a dozen stocks at single-digit prices, including two of my most recent picks, LivePerson
LivePerson provides an online chat platform that's more cost-effective and immediate than email or phone support. The company's high-end platform can also go proactive. For instance, if a potential shopper is showing hesitation browsing an online retailer, LivePerson has the data-mining know-how to cut into the experience and engage the visitor before the shopping cart is abandoned. This action typically results in a higher conversion rate and larger purchase.
Strolling through the supermarket's dairy aisle, it's hard to miss Smart Balance's heart-healthy spreads. The butter substitute has been gaining market share for years. However, the real driver at Smart Balance may be its enhanced milk. Shoppers stock up on tubs of spread on a monthly basis, but milk is a weekly purchase in many homes.
These are two pretty dynamic and profitable companies, yet they are two of the many growth stocks trading in the single digits.
Start small, think big
Now, before you go out and sell all of your high-priced stocks to replace them with single-digit contenders, remember that there are risks. Stocks are usually trading this low for a good reason.
It helps to have like-minded investors to lean on, and that's why I like to spend a lot of time on the discussion boards that are part of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers service. You're welcome to join me there -- checking out a 30-day trial subscription to see whether it's right for you. Either way, surround yourself with investors who can appreciate the beauty of early bird specials.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns no shares in any of the stocks in this article, though he owns a few stocks with single-digit prices. He's also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Hansen Natural, LivePerson, and Smart Balance are Motley Fool Rule Breakers choices. Ford Motor is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.