Who among us hasn't dreamed about catching a hot IPO in the beginning stages? Just ask early investors in game-changers like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), up a mind-numbing 22,590% since its first day of trading in 1984, or Nike (NYSE: NKE), up 12,618% since 1987.
To be sure, getting in on the right stock on day one can be financially rewarding. But you don't have to be first in line to profit from the next big thing. Sometimes you don't even need to get in line at all...
I'll give you an example.
What is 2012's best-performing IPO?
The answer may surprise you.
Here's a hint... The company's mascot is a bunny (no, not that bunny). This mascot was inspired by Bernie, a real rabbit owned by one of the co-founders. Rest assured this company has a solid "G" rating -- suitable for all general investors.
Case in point... In conjunction with the release of the company's first public quarterly earnings report, the CEO spoke of its mission "to cultivate a healthier, happier world... by spreading goodness."
But before you dismiss the reigning rookie of the year as just another Ben & Jerry's -- the Vermont ice cream company whose corporate motto is "peace through understanding" -- consider this: In that same quarterly report, the company announced earnings of 24 cents a share on an adjusted basis, topping Wall Street's forecasts by 20%. Revenues rose 18% from a year earlier, to $43 million.
The company's flagship product? Macaroni and cheese. That's right. Not a breakthrough drug. Not an iPad killer. Macaroni and cheese.
But not just any mac and cheese. The company's mac and cheese is purposely manufactured in the shape of a rabbit -- just the thing to entice kids who are picky eaters. And it's "all natural" to boot -- an ample incentive for suburban moms and parents everywhere who are concerned about their family's health.
And Kraft Foods (Nasdaq: KFT) is looking over its shoulder.
This is a game-changer.
Andy Obermueller brought Annie's (NYSE: BNNY) to his readers' attention back in April, shortly after the purveyor of natural foods went public at $19 a share. On Friday, Sept. 14, Annie's closed at $46.95, up nearly 150% in less than six months.
In the most recent issue of Game-Changing Stocks, Andy revisited Annie's, profiling the company along with four others in a search for tomorrow's most valuable businesses. His conclusion: "Annie's bears watching."
And while Annie's has been good to its shareholders, it's been even better to the private-equity firm that took it public.
According to The Wall Street Journal, New-York based Solera Capital gave Annie's $81 million while the company was still in its start-up phase. After the IPO, that $81 million venture was worth roughly $538 million -- a 564% gain on the firm's original investment.
So while the average investors who bought Annie's on day one are up more than 100%, the company's early investors -- the ones that had a stake in the game before the IPO -- are up nearly four times as much.
That's the power of private equity.
Normally, private equity deals like these are reserved for "elite" investors. The average Joe has been locked out of this investment space for years. But fortunately for us, Andy has found a back door into this lucrative market.
Here's what Andy has to say...
"Private-equity firms have money. Startups need it.
If you look at the prospectus of 100 initial public offerings, 99 will have a private equity group as a major winner in the sale of the shares. Private-equity firms basically provide the seed money to get the idea off the ground and they profit handsomely if the company is a success.
Normally, to invest in a private equity firm, one needs to be very wealthy. Only about 6% of Americans qualify. But there is another way to get an invitation to the party, and that's by buying shares in a publicly traded private equity firm like Carlyle Group (NYSE: CG) or KKR (NYSE: KKR).
Action to Take --> When a firm launches an IPO, it's attracting capital from investors in exchange for an ownership interest in the business. After the transaction closes, the firm has additional owners and a lot of cash. So, when it looks for investors to fund a startup, it doesn't have to look very far -- it might be the first $1 million, $10 million or even $100 million from its own coffers. If the bet pays off, the private-equity firm -- and, by extension, its shareholders -- gets the profits. It seems kind of convoluted, but all investors really need to remember is that they needn't be excluded from the same type of private equity deals that wealthy investors have been profiting from for decades."