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These off-the-radar stocks are great ideas

If we look at the most successful companies of all time, (IBM, FDX, GOOG, to name a few) we note one thing they have in common: until they began to make money doing it, what these companies now do would very probably have sounded crazy to most people. In 1956, IBM created a machine that could not only play checkers, but could adapt its own play-style based on the results of its previous experiences. At the time, the machine that could play checkers was dismissed as a gimmick with no more significance than a chicken playing tic-tac-toe, though today, many point to the accomplishment as the herald of the era of modern computers. Likewise, when Fred Smith had a notion that he could make national deliveries in a single night, the world scoffed.

It would be going too far to suggest that perceived craziness and true vision are positively correlated; most things that appear crazy are just that. Still, it may be that to find companies that might grow exponentially over the coming years, we should start by examining companies that appear at least slightly crazy, and then ask ourselves if they are truly as crazy as they seem.

One of the companies on the list is not crazy except in the word's most playful and light-hearted sense, while another has at least a touch of what Hunter S. Thompson called bad craziness. I will begin, however, with a company of fantastic zaniness and impenetrable moral ambiguity…

Julian Close

Julian Close became a stockbroker in 1995. In his 20 years of market experience, he has seen all market conditions and written about every aspect of investing. Julian has also written extensively on corporate best practices and even written reports for the United Nations. He graduated from Davidson College in 1993 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College in 2011. You can see closing trades for all Julian's long and short positions and track his long term performance via twitter: @JulianClose_MIC.