Find a Winner–Find Fortune

It isn’t easy being small. It’s a major accomplishment just to create an enterprise that doesn’t go bankrupt in its first year. For small- and micro-cap companies, the battle is always about attracting attention to their story.

Every small company I’ve ever come across loves media and Wall Street attention, and is always ready to promote itself with its latest accomplishment. You can tell an overly promotional company by the nature and volume of their press releases. Many small-cap companies are so interested in promoting themselves, it’s almost as if they would issue a press release highlighting what the CEO had for lunch that day.

Seriously now, I have to draw your attention to a micro-cap company that I recently wrote about in this column. This company just loves to issue press releases.

The good news about the company I’m talking about is that it does have a good story to tell. The worst is when you get a little company making announcements about news that really doesn’t add up to anything.

Anyway, LJ International (NASDAQ/JADE) is my most recent “hot stock.” This company is small, but it is growing like mad. The company recently issued a press release saying that it was featured in a lengthy article in the Los Angeles Times newspaper, the country’s fourth largest daily.

I always laugh when companies do this (even though I really believe in this company’s story and I want it to succeed). There’s nothing like spending the money to announce that you’ve been announced about in media. The company’s saying, “Hey! Look at me! Someone else just did!”

Small companies are always complaining that they don’t get the kind of media and Wall Street attention they deserve. What they don’t realize is that institutional investors are watching, but most of them are just too big to make an investment in a small company pay off. In most cases, there isn’t enough liquidity in a small company stock to even get a worthwhile position.

It’s a catch-22 situation. Small companies want to become big companies so institutional investors can buy the stock, but they can’t grow fast enough without institutional investors’ money to expand.

And so, the stock market moves forward as it always does. Wall Street follows the bigger companies and small companies are left to promote themselves on their own merits. Perhaps this is why there is so much opportunity in smaller companies for astute investors. Not only do you want to invest in a growing company, you also want to invest in a growing company that has a high probability of getting recognized by institutional investors. Investment risk is always very high with smaller companies, but then again, if you get a winner, you really can make a fortune.