Like cutting edge, savvy companies? Plenty of stocks out there have been more than rewarding thanks to a clever technology or brilliant marketing idea.
There are some corporations, however, that may be investment-worthy based on know-how that’s not only ahead of the curve, but completely mind-blowing. Yet, many of these tactics and technologies are going completely unappreciated by the investment community.
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at five names that have monetized — or are soon to monetize — sheer brainpower and ingenuity. Some of them are companies you’ve never heard of, while others are household names you may not have realized were so savvy when it comes to growing their respective businesses.
Mobileye NV (MBLY)
While Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is getting the lion’s share of attention reserved for the driverless car concept, an Israeli company called Mobileye NV (NYSE:MBLY) is actually years ahead of Google on some technological fronts with an idea that’s considerably less creepy than a vehicle that’s entirely hands-off for passengers.
Simply put, Mobileye NV makes sensors — cameras, more or less — that can “see” all the cars in surrounding traffic, determine of pedestrians may be in danger, read traffic signs a driver may have missed and more. And, where appropriate as well as safe, the equipment can take over some aspects of the car’s operation if the driver hasn’t reacted in time to avert an accident.
These technologies aren’t just theoretical technologies that show promise in fields tests. Mobileye hardware is already being installed (OEM) by major automobile makers like General Motors, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motors.
Organovo Holdings Inc. (ONVO)
The idea of printing a human organ may sound like something out of Star Trek, but Organovo Holdings Inc. (NYSEMKT:ONVO) is turning an idea from science fiction into scientific reality. That’s right — Organovo Holdings has figured out how to “print” organic tissue into a three-dimensional structure that’s amazingly like tissue grown the old-fashioned way.
It’s still a little early in the science’s life to expect a 100%-printed human body. But, Organovo Holdings has been able to create functional liver tissue that is architecturally correct — one of the premise’s biggest hurdles. It’s enough like actual, human-grown liver tissue to use for clinical testing of liver therapies.
Though that’s the extent of the 3D tissue printing process so far, the advent of the technology could eventually lead to the printing and implanting of lab-grown organs.
Starbucks Corporation (SBUX)
Think you’re lucky to be living near a Starbucks? Well, you are, and not just because you have access to great coffee served up in a cozy atmosphere.
As it turns out, living near a Starbucks store can also make your home appreciate in value more than home values of those poor consumers who don’t have a nearby Starbucks locale.
The cause-effect relationship may be a little questionable, but the correlation is undeniable — some number-crunching done by Zillow Inc. (NASDAQ:Z) had determined home values near a Starbucks increased about 50% faster than the average home did between 1997 and 2014.
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) says it’s not entirely surprised, as it takes a scientific approach to picking sites, tweaked by the experience. It just so happens that the best sites are decisively in areas where young, urban, nuevo affluents choose to live, and are willing to pay up for the privilege of living in those neighborhoods.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)
For as much progress as computer technology has made since the late ’80s, the basic premise of the hardware and processing technology hasn’t changed one bit. That is, we’re still using silicon-based transistors and x86-type processors that boil all data down to either a 1 or a 0. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is about to lead the computer industry to a quantum leap…. literally.
They’re called qubits, which are — in layman’s terms — pieces of information that can be deemed a 1 and a 0 simultaneously. It seems irrelevant on the surface, but the implications for computing power are enormous. Algorithms that would take hours or even days for a silicon-based computer to resolve (if it all) can be figured out in a matter of seconds with qubit-based processor.
It’s the kind of technology that could look at a DNA chain and figure out which piece of it makes an individual prone to cancer. It’s also the kind of technology that could make a SkyNet-like artificial intelligence a reality.
And yes, boring ol’ software company Microsoft Corporation is on the cutting edge of this new type of quantum computing. Indeed, late last year Microsoft announced that it was nearing the creation of a topical qubit that is reliably stable. That instability was one of the key challenges holding back the development of this next era of computing technology.
Target Corporation (TGT)
Retailer Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) came across as rather poorly after hackers stole credit card information from millions of consumers who had shopped it its stores in 2013. Nevertheless, Target sure gets to know its customers.
If you feel like the company has gotten to know you strangely well when it comes to advertising and promotions, you’re not crazy. Beginning in 2013, at least some Target stores established WiFi connection points inside their stores, free for customers to use as they wish. The company even sweetened the pot by offering a mobile app that supplies coupons or serves up advertisements as that shopper moves around the store.
The catch? Target keeps track of everything you do while connected (including where you go in the store), even monitoring when you visit a competitor’s website while online. Whatever you’re doing, Target is watching.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.