Investment Ideas for 2015: What We're Watching in the New Year

By Motley Fool

The New Year is a good occasion to re-evaluate your portfolio and start hunting for promising new investments. So we asked three top Motley Fool analysts which stocks they would be watching this year, and they turned up an IPO, the maker of an exciting new product, and a company that stands to benefit from a transformational shift in an established industry. Read on to learn why our contributors think these investment ideas should be on your radar in 2015.

Patrick MorrisOne thing I will keep a close eye on in 2015 is how the spinoff of PayPal from eBay progresses.

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The press releaseannouncingthe move at the end of September included the following information:

In other words, PayPal is a company with burgeoning potential thanks to its extensive global reach and its incredibly strong financial performance.

The payments industry is one that has delivered massive benefits to shareholders through the years -- since it went public in 2006,MasterCard is up an astonishing 1,800% -- and the initial signs indicate PayPal should continue that trend in the years to come.

But investing in an IPO can always be tricky, and with so much focus on the payments industry in recent months, one has to wonder whether the demand for PayPal will drive up the price to unsustainable levels.

As a result, I'll be closely watching PayPal, because if the price is justifiable, then one has to think it will make for a sensible investment.

In 2015, the launch of the Apple Watch (rumored to come in the second quarter) will be a pivotal moment for the tech giant, as well as the fledgling wearables market.

The device will be the company's first new product line launch without Steve Jobs, and it represents a way for Apple to diversify beyond iPhones and iPads, which respectively accounted for 56% and 13% of its top line last quarter. Forecasts for the Apple Watch's first year sales vary widely, from 10 million units (Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray) to 60 million units (Katy Huberty, Morgan Stanley).

Based on the high end of that forecast, and a base price of $350 per unit, the Apple Watch could account for up to 3% of Apple's projected 2015 revenue of $210.7 billion. However, pricey wristbands will likely double or triple the price per unit, which means Apple Watch could account for nearly 10% of the company's annual revenue in a best-case scenario. If it sells well, Apple Watch could also tether more users to its Apple Pay, HealthKit, and HomeKit ecosystems.

The Apple Watch is also widely expected to turn smart watches from niche geek devices into mainstream ones. If Apple fails to do so, lofty projections -- such as ON World's forecast of smartwatch shipments soaring from 4 million in 2013 to 330 million in 2018 -- could be completely off the mark.

So far, the second open-enrollment period for the Obamacare health insurance exchanges has gone off without a hitch. The exchanges have signed up more than 6.4 million people in their first month, including 1.9 million new members, but what I'll be watching closely is how the next few months shake out.

That's because a surge in enrollment could mean big bucks for America's two largest health insurers in 2015.UnitedHealth Group andAnthem are both participating broadly in the exchanges this year, and if the exchanges can exceed projections for 9 million members, both companies could see revenue jump.

Last year, UnitedHealth took a cautious approach to the exchanges, offering plans in just four states. This year, they offered plans in 24 states. Anthem has remained active, offering plans in 14 states in both years. The industry has indicated it expects to generate 3% to 5% margins off those plans over time. Since the average bronze level premium last year was $2,448, every million people who sign up through the exchanges should be worth at least $2.4 billion in industry-wide premium revenue, which, at a 3% margin would mean an additional $73 million in industry-wide profit per million members. That's enough of a needle-mover to get my attention.

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Leo Sun owns shares of Apple. Patrick Morris owns shares of Apple. Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Anthem, Apple, eBay, MasterCard, and UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, eBay, and MasterCard. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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