Wild cards are not just any old stock — as the name suggests. They are usually a lot riskier looking than your average Big Tech company or index fund but may prove to be hugely valuable.
The secret to becoming a great investor is being able to spot these wild cards early on. However, to look to the future, we must first understand the past and look at three stocks once considered ‘wild cards’, that saw their fortunes turned around.
Perhaps one of the most famous turnarounds of our time, everybody knows Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), and no doubt many of you are familiar with its products.
But did you know…
In 1997, Apple was just 90 days from bankruptcy. Imagine that:
- Four years before iTunes changed the music scene.
- 10 years before the first iPhone.
- Almost 20 years before AirPods existed.
iPads, iCloud, ‘Ted Lasso’; all of these and more were 90 days away from never existing.
But Steve Jobs believed that Apple could still be saved, believing steadfastly that his company had the talent and brand loyalty required for success. So Jobs stepped in. Now, his approach to marketing and innovation has become the textbook case study for business turnarounds we all want to be a part of.
Now, 24 years later, with a market cap of approximately $2.5 trillion, Apple sits comfortably atop the world’s most valuable companies lists, having seen its share price soar almost 150,000% since 1997.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It might seem obvious now that these stocks were destined to recover and soar. But when they were down on their knees, it took people with courage and a formula to spot a potential turnaround to invest.
If you were to list the names of famous car brands off the top of your head, it’s likely that most of you would have Chrysler in there — now trading as Stellantis (NYSE: STLA) following a merger with Peugeot S.A. back in January.
Surely such a famous name in the auto industry could not go out of business?
Well, in 1980, the company lost $1.7 billion and was just hours away from bankruptcy multiple times in the same year.
However, by 1983, Chrysler had managed to hold out, regroup, and announced that it was able to repay a government-backed loan of $1.5 billion AND made a profit. Talk about doing a complete one-eighty.
The newly formed Stellantis has a bright future ahead in the luxury vehicle space and commands an impressive market cap of roughly $53 billion at the time of writing.
Like almost every giant business today, FedEx (NYSE: FDX) had very humble, and uncertain, origins.
Founder Fred Smith started FedEx with $4 million of his own inheritance money plus $80 million in loans and equity investments (ok, that might not sound very humble to me and you, but it’s a lot smaller than FedEx is now).
With eight planes covering 35 cities, FedEx had plans to increase coverage every month. Looked like clear skies, right?
Then disaster struck. Rising fuel costs and mounting debts in the ‘70s stripped the business down to its last $5,000, putting it all but out of business.
Smith tried every route and pulled every string to get the funding he needed. But nobody liked his chances at turning around a business in such deep water. After all, this was before e-commerce was ever a thing.
That’s when he made an infamous decision.
He withdrew the last $5,000, went to Vegas, and literally gambled it… at the blackjack table — don’t try this at home!
Incredibly, he turned that meager $5,000 into $27,000. Not enough to save the business. But enough to give him the motivation to carry on.
Soon after, FedEx secured $11 million in funding and now they’re a household brand with a market cap of approx. $70 billion, its share price up almost 4,000% since going public in 1981.
Want to discover the secret to harnessing extraordinary stocks to skyrocket your investing gains? Register here for our free Horizon webinar, hosted by Emmet Savage. You won’t be disappointed.
Content Manager at MyWallSt
Jamie is the Content Editor here at MyWallSt. His favorite stock is Apple, which is also the first stock he ever bought. Jamie is not only a big fan of its products, but he believes that the tech giant has a whole lot more to give the world, and hasn't even scraped the surface of its potential.