This Rags-to-Riches Surgical Innovator Shows the Key to Succeeding in Microcaps

The top 10 companies in the S&P 500 Index today may look a lot different a decade from now...

The microcap space is a compelling investment universe. It doesn't take much to send these stocks soaring. Even joining a major index, such as the Russell 2000, can attract a rush of investment dollars and give tiny stocks an attractive short-term pop.

However, the real reason microcap stocks can be so compelling isn't just their potential for short-term gains. Microcaps can also be massive multibagger ideas in the long term.

They can become household names that dominate the S&P 500. It's the ultimate rags-to-riches setup...

One year ago, we analyzed the U.S. mega-cap universe at Altimetry. We found that 100 companies had market capitalizations of more than $50 billion. Among those 100 names, nearly half had at one point been valued at less than $1 billion since 2000.

What's even more telling is among the 47 names that were once microcaps, 10 have made the transition to mega-caps since 2000. This means the blue-chip companies we all know today weren't always the obvious leaders... At some point, these companies were tiny firms that few understood.

At Altimetry, we're focused on finding market opportunities that are only just beginning to realize their potential... in other words, the sort of companies that will outperform over the next decade or even longer.

The biggest winners of the past were those that dominated once-niche market trends. This is the key that helped their earnings explode – and stock prices soon followed...

A great example of a company that successfully followed the microcap rags-to-riches playbook is Intuitive Surgical (ISRG). It's an innovative maker of robotic surgical equipment.

In February 2003, Intuitive Surgical sported a market capitalization of barely $100 million.

At the time, the company was trying to revolutionize the fields of urology and gynecology by introducing precision surgical machines to urologists and OB-GYNs.

This was an unproven technology. The idea was to take scalpels out of the hands of doctors and instead provide them with a machine they could control to perform the required surgery.

If it could perfect its technology, Intuitive Surgical believed it could expand its use cases beyond just urology and gynecology, transforming the entire surgery industry in the process.

Initially, the market was skeptical. It saw a company with high potential yet little tangible results. But eventually, the fundamentals began to take off.

In 2003, Uniform return on assets ("ROA") – a measure we use to smooth out the distortions of traditional earnings numbers – improved from negative 17% to negative 2%...

The following year, Intuitive Surgical began steadily gaining traction as demand for its flagship da Vinci Surgical System took off. While revenue only grew from $92 million to $138 million, Uniform ROA shot up from negative 2% to 19%. (Meanwhile, the faulty as-reported metrics showed only a marginal improvement to 4%.) Take a look...

Once Intuitive Surgical's emerging technology took hold, it was almost impossible to shake its grip. With real earnings rocketing higher, the stock price followed.

Today, the company generates more than $5 billion in annual revenue. And its stock trades around $330. That's after the stock's recent 3-for-1 split that took effect on October 5... Previously, the stock traded around $1,000 per share. Take a look...

A passive $10,000 investment in Intuitive Surgical back when it was a tiny, unproven microcap with great potential would now be worth more than $4 million.

You can see the power of microcap investing...

It's much easier for a $100 million company to become a $1 billion-plus company than a $100 billion company to become a $1 trillion company. That's why we focus so heavily on researching up-and-coming names. Because they start small, discovering just one great emerging business that meets its potential can transform your savings forever.


Joel Litman

Editor's note: Microcaps have some of the biggest profit potential on Wall Street. But because of their size, they're totally "off limits" to billionaires like Warren Buffett, Bill Ackman, Jim Simons, and more. These legends manage too much money to get in on these opportunities... But you can. And right now, Joel has found a specific microcap stock that could soar as high as 380% by the end of the year... Get the details here.

Further Reading

"When retail traders all agree – and they all make the same bet – you want to run the other direction," Chris Igou writes. It's an opportunity that happened in small-cap stocks recently. And it could lead to a double-digit rally in the months ahead... Read more here: Small Caps Are Set for a Major Rally.

"There is tremendous value in understanding a company's true financial status," Joel says. But the market isn't always transparent about performance metrics. That's why he developed a method of valuing stocks that reflects a stock's real value... Get the full story here: This Secret Could Have Made You 15 Times Your Money.

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Software is the way of the future. And one little-known company will lead the next push in software development from here...

Market Notes


Today, we're looking at a company that makes it easier to manage clients...

Longtime readers know we love investing in big, secular trends... And one of the most popular trends today is the rise of the "cloud." The cloud allows businesses and individuals to access data and software over the Internet without storing it on their devices. One giant in this space is thriving as companies do more work online... (CRM) is a $280 billion cloud behemoth. It offers the world's leading customer-relationship management platform, helping more than 150,000 companies across a variety of industries keep track of sales, marketing efforts, and customer service. And its clients can access this data anytime, from anywhere... making an ideal tool for the modern digital workplace. Most recently, the company posted second-quarter sales of more than $6 billion, up 23% year over year.

As you can see in today's chart, CRM shares are up nearly 30% since the start of this year... And they just hit a fresh all-time high. As more businesses embrace remote work, should continue to grow its client base...