Many massive, well-known corporations have traded as penny stocks. Despite being worth billions, some of them are trading for less than $5 per share even now.
You probably know most of these names. In fact, you may be surprised by the corporations on our list, which either have or are traded as penny stocks.
- Many of today's large, well-known corporations once traded as penny stocks, and some still have low stock prices.
- A few examples are Ford Motor Company and General Motors, Sirius XM Radio, and Blackberry.
- Even Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) are both in the penny stock realm and have been since the 2008 financial crisis.
Ford Motor Company / General Motors
Ford Motor Company (F) is a surprising one, but it did in fact trade for less than $2 per share... right around the time General Motors (GM) was going bankrupt. Ford is not a corporation which comes to mind when most people think about penny stocks. Nevertheless, it had slipped into penny stock territory. Since then, it has returned to more appropriate valuations over $15 per share.
Pier 1 Imports
For the shoppers among us, Pier 1 Imports (PIR) is a name they know. What is not typically known is that shares of PIR traded as low as 10 cents on March 13, 2009, and there were several days before and after which saw this penny stock bouncing around under 50 cents.
Of course, this was at a time when the entire business was at risk of folding, but for those gutsy investors who believed in the company, their rewards have been a four-year rise towards $25 per share, in 2013. Today, PIR trades around $13.50, which values the corporation at $1.2 billion.
Sirius XM (SIRI) satellite radio is a penny stock even now, with the price range in the last 52 weeks hitting a high of $4.04, and a low of $3.14. We're not shy about giving opinions on this company - even before their merger with XM Radio we disliked their business model very much. Years later, we changed our tune, and their improved operations allowed us to be fans of the company and their prospects.
Xerox / RadioShack / Eastman Kodak
Xerox (XRX) was one of those companies which slid into penny stock territory as their business faded. Similar fates awaited a few others you may recognize, such as Radio Shack (RSHCQ) and Eastman Kodak (EKDKQ), among others.
The "Q" as the fifth letter of a ticker symbol means that the company went bankrupt. "Q" shares are eventually canceled and worth nothing.
LoJack / Second Cup / Alcatel-Lucent
Also from the "names you know" files, companies from LoJack (LOJN) to Second Cup (SCU, well-known in Canada) to Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) all hang around the penny stock world. In fact, all of their shares were trading in the $3 to $4 range at the time of this report.
Monster Beverage Corp. / BlackBerry
To contrast one another, two former penny stocks going in different directions are Monster Beverage Corporation (MNST) and BlackBerry (BB on the NYSE, formerly known as Research in Motion).
MNST has been roaring strongly higher since beginning trading publicly in 2002, and now sits at close to $130 per share, giving the company a value of $22 billion.
BBRY, on the other hand, has been struggling with massive competition from many major players in the smartphone industry. Having gone to University in the town where Research in Motion started, several personal friends landed early jobs there. They would agree that the trend of stock option millionaires has now been replaced by a few rounds of significant layoffs and several operational obstacles. As the business deals with their headwinds, they have been able to bring BBRY shares back up to $10 and beyond.
Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac
Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) are both in the penny stock realm and have been since the 2008 financial crisis. While picking themselves up from near-zero valuations, they have both climbed towards more respectable prices in the last few years. In fact, they temporarily escaped penny stock territory at one point in 2014, by rising above the $5 share price level. That strength turned out to be short-lived, as their shares have fallen towards $2.50.
Editor's Note: Peter Leeds profiled Ford, Sirius XM, and Alcatel-Lucent between 2008 and 2013.