Sometimes opportunity comes from little-known names that are only just beginning to make waves; other times, it may be the well-known brand that the masses have fallen out of love with. Either way, savvy investors know how to unearth stocks with big potential where others may not be looking. The result can be game-changing returns years later.
When asked about stocks that most investors are missing out on, three of our Foolish contributors offered advice on why Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Carvana (NYSE:CVNA), and Teladoc (NYSE:TDOC) fit the bill.
The market's nervousness has created a potential buying opportunity
Chuck Saletta (Apple): Technology titan Apple has seen its shares take a beating as several of its suppliers warn about lower than expected iPhone volumes. Those warnings, combined with Apple's recent decision to stop reporting unit volumes, have the market spooked that tough times may be coming for the company.
The timing of Apple's decision to cut back on reporting looks a little suspect given the warnings from its suppliers. As a result, chances are that its shares won't show much sign of recovery unless and until its pivot to services shows itself to be a winning one. Still, despite the market's nervousness with its shares, Apple's operations remain strong. That strength is giving in-the-know investors the chance to pick up its future potential at reasonable prices today.
Apple currently trades at around 12.6 times its anticipated earnings. Despite the market's nervousness, analysts are expecting those earnings to grow at around a 13% pace over the next five or so years. That combination means that if Apple merely meets expectations, its shareholders are well positioned for potential rewards.
What makes Apple an attractive stock for in-the-know investors, though, is its incredibly strong balance sheet. Apple boasts over $25 billion in cash and over $40 billion in marketable securities on its balance sheet, and it has a very supportable debt-to-equity ratio of below 1.1. That combination means even if Apple's pivot takes longer, or goes slower than expected, the company has the financial wherewithal to see it through to completion.
Daniel Miller (Carvana): If you're hunting for high-growth stocks, you probably won't start by looking in the automotive industry, especially considering that North America's light-vehicle market is plateauing in this current cycle. However, for in-the-know investors, there are still some overlooked growth stocks in the auto industry, and Carvana is one to keep an eye on.
Although the stock has cooled over the past couple of months, it's still been a wild success for investors who hopped on board during its April 2017 IPO. The bull thesis is straightforward: The U.S. used car market is massive, highly fragmented, and ripe for disruption. According to the company's June 2018 introduction presentation, in 2017, the U.S. used car market was $764 billion in sales, and the largest dealer market share was 1.8%. Further, citing a DealerSocket report and, separately, a Gallup Poll, 81% of consumers don't enjoy the car-buying process, and only 8% rated car salespeople highly trustworthy. That distrust and unsatisfying car purchasing process is why Carvana's experience -- where a consumer can complete a purchase online in as little as 10 minutes and set up for a home delivery or pickup at the nearest vending machine -- is compelling for many consumers.
For Carvana to continue rewarding investors with a soaring stock price, it must accelerate two things: its population reach and profitability per unit. Management has done well expanding Carvana's reach thus far, opening 13 new markets during the third quarter alone, compared to having only nine total markets at the end of 2015. That extending reach pushed Carvana's U.S. population served up 300 basis points to 55.8% during the third quarter, compared to the second quarter of 2018. Not only is Carvana selling more vehicles in more markets across the nation, each unit sold is becoming more profitable. Carvana's total gross profit per vehicle (GPU) reached its highest level ever at $2,302 during the third quarter, excluding CEO Ernie Garcia's "100k Milestone Gift." That's a massive improvement from $1,023 per unit during 2016, and it's closer to its $3,000 target.
Carvana is compelling for in-the-know investors simply because it offers a solution to the traditional car-buying process and is expanding its reach and GPU quickly.
A better way to get healthcare
Nicholas Rossolillo (Teladoc): Traditional healthcare is facing disruption. Teladoc, the global leader in phone- and internet-based medical care, has been on a tear the last few years. The stock is up nearly 200% since the start of 2016; trailing-12-month revenue has gone from $80 million to $372 million over that same span of time, getting a boost from organic growth as well as a couple of acquisitions of competitors.
Teladoc offers virtual care to healthcare insurance providers and employers who want to offer services to participants and employees. Convenience is a big factor for patients, as is cost savings for companies and insurance providers as America's healthcare system copes with a lack of supply of healthcare professionals and growing demand. As technology has improved to make telemedicine more viable, Teladoc has also expanded its sub-disciplines -- which now number in the hundreds and cover things like behavioral health, pediatrics, pharmacy, and general practice.
Virtual care services have plenty of runway ahead of them, driven by technological advances, an aging world population, and consumer migration to all things digital. That doesn't mean Teladoc is for everyone, though. The company is still unprofitable (it ran an operating loss of $53 million through the first three quarters of 2018), and shares are valued at a premium, with the price-to-sales ratio running at 11.0 as of this writing. That implies investors expect Teladoc to keep expanding at a torrid pace for quite some time.
Nevertheless, Teladoc is currently in the driver seat in the burgeoning virtual care industry, and it's the only provider with worldwide reach. If you have years to wait and don't mind the volatility, this stock is a great way to invest in the future of healthcare.