You don't need the investing acumen of Warren Buffett or the riches of a trust fund baby to achieve financial success.
Small sums of money invested monthly in undervalued small-cap stocks offer hope for your greatest returns. They offer the best opportunities for growth because they're mostly ignored by the big investors.
Below we screen for stocks under $3 billion in market cap, offering earnings surprises of 15% or more in the previous quarter, with long-term earnings growth forecast to be at least 15%. We'll then filter our findings through the collective investing wisdom of the 180,000 members in our Motley Fool CAPS community.
Here are some of the stocks this simple screen found:
EPS Act. vs. Est.
Avg. Analyst 5-Yr. EPS Est.
CAPS Rating (out of 5)
Axcelis Technologies (NAS: ACLS)
OpenTable (NAS: OPEN)
Source: Yahoo.com and Motley Fool CAPS.
Of course, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- just a starting point for more research. We need to look more closely at these companies to see whether analysts' faith in them is well-founded.
A Dickensian scenario
Depending on where you look in the semiconductor industry, it's either the best of times or the worst of times. OK, that might be overstating it a bit (since no one seems to think things are "best" when it comes to chips), but Intel (NAS: INTC) and Texas Instruments (NYS: TXN) posted strong quarters recently, whereas Altera's results beat expectations but offered up dour forecasts for the coming quarter.
Fortunately for investors in Axcelis Technologies, it's been more of the former than the latter in recent months. The company scored a big CMOS chip order in October from one of the world's largest device makers and followed that up this month with a follow-on order from a top semi manufacturer for one of its plasma dry strip systems that are used in making logic and image sensor devices.
With smartphones expected to account for 22% of global mobile device retail sales in 2012 -- they're an obvious outlet for image sensors -- Axcelis is positioned to capitalize on this still-growing trend, even as Intel and Texas Instruments stake their own claims in the space. Although analysts are divided over its prospects, 88% of the CAPS members rating Axcelis think it will beat the market averages, though the low, two-star rating they've assigned it suggests they, too, think there are better places for your money.
Tell us on the Axcelis Technologies CAPS page if you think it will chip away at the layers of doubt, then add the stock to your watchlist to see how the smartphone trend plays out.
An open book
Do investors have a closed mind when it comes to OpenTable? Except for one quarter where it pretty much just matched analyst expectations, the online reservation specialist has consistently beat the pros' best guesses -- yet the stock trades more than 60% below where it stood nearly a year ago.
Concerns over Google's (NAS: GOOG) purchase of Zagat last year weigh on the stock, as does rival Urbanspoon. And while OpenTable did experience a drop in seated customers last quarter (the first time in three years that happened), this time around they jumped 39% to almost 27 million diners. I've been one of them on more than one occasion.
As the Fool's Rick Munarriz notes, with both OpenTable and Urbanspoon enjoying some heady growth even though dining out has become something of a luxury these days, we can expect to see larger gains in the future when the economy recovers.
Now it's time to pick up OPEN again at its depressed share price. OPEN has a huge advantage over other Internet flame-outs in (a) the high barrier to entry and (b) exclusivity. Two businesses cannot play at the restaurant reservation game; OPEN has a lock on this space.
Add OpenTable to the Fool's free portfolio tracker and tell us in the comments section below when you think investors will have an open mind again about its prospects.
Foolish final thoughts
These companies may have the odds stacked against them, but The Motley Fool has identified two stocks that are also facing difficult times yet still grow revenues hand over fist. The report is free, but it's only available for a short time, so ask for your copy today and find out the two cash kings that are changing the face of their industry.
At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorRich Dupreyowns shares of Intel, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Intel, Texas Instruments, and OpenTable.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Google, OpenTable, and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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