Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

5 Stocks Under $3

For those who may just want to 'play' in the stock market, learn the ins and out of trading, or perhaps don't have much to invest, a great method is to research and invest in small cap or penny stocks. These are typically traded over the counter (OTC) and/or are the little-known companies that are still in their fledgling stages.

Between 5 and 10 dollars is a common threshold when screening for stocks. Many investors actively avoid penny stocks due to the speculative nature, the often wide bid/ask spreads, and the excessive volatility that is all too common in stocks under $1.00.

That being said, some work out spectacularly well, sometimes seeing a 100% return or 200% return in a short period of time. While no one can ensure a return like that, here are five companies - in several sectors - that are doing some big things and have potential to explode in the near future.

1) Viratech Corp (OTCPK:VIRA). Viratech Corp. is the first social network platform focused on biotech research and experience-based searching. The goal of the company is to accelerate the research and development of new cancer therapies and diagnostics by increasing collaboration in cancer research. With such a tool that feeds into the modern day 'craze' of sharing everything with everyone, ideas for therapy and research can be shared quickly and without unnecessary restrictions or limitations. Think of it as Facebook with a purpose.

Viratech falls into the 'penny stock' category, as it is priced at only $.05 a share and has a market cap of $36M. With trending news of the partnerships this company is making, I see this as a good move to get in now and ride the increase as it gains popularity.

2) Soupman, Inc. (OTCQB: SOUP). Soupman Inc., the inspiration behind the 'Seinfeld' soup episodes, manufactures and sells soups and franchises soup restaurants. Soupman also has expanded to over 3000 grocery stores nationwide. Most recently, it is expanding into Al's Famous New York Delicatessen & Restaurant model in Casinos throughout the US and Canada.

The monthly average volume is just under 25,000 and the stock currently sits at $.62, down from a high of $1 about 3 months ago. However, with recent change in leadership and planned expansion, gain is expected between 10-20% ($.06-$.15 per share).

3) Stevia First Corp. (OTCBB: STVF). Stevia is billed as a miracle plant. From the sunflower family, native to South America, stevia is sweeter than sugar but has no caloric value or effect on blood sugar levels - and that is why companies are tripping over themselves to offer it. Stevia First is in the lead, as it has an established pipeline from production to distribution, as well as a formidable research team.

The history of this stock is somewhat surprising. In 2012, it saw a gain of almost 391% The first quarter of 2013 saw this hot penny stock still up 114%. It is currently up .24% at $.41 per share.

4) Atlantic American Corp. (NASDAQ: AAME). Atlantic American is a holding company whose subsidiaries deal with the well-defined specialty markets within a variety of insurance industries. In the last year, this penny stock has jumped +60%, and more recently, it is up +22% in the last three months. This financial company also posted a quarterly revenue growth of +6%, year-over-year, recently. Currently, the stock is trading at just over $2.00.

5) Quicklogic (NASDAQ: QUIK) is a semiconductor company that develops and markets low-power programmable solutions that enable customers to add features to their mobile, consumer and industrial products. Anything mobile deserves further research, as smartphones have outsold PC's for the last 2 years. Quicklogic has an 'in' with the handset production market in China.

This year shares are up by 8.7 percent, currently at $2.25. Research will show that shares have been moving between $2 on the downside and $2.45 on the upside. This means that at this price, it has just started to trend back above its 50-day moving average of $2.20 a share and is quickly moving within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade above the upper end of its recent range.

Investing in stocks under the $10 mark is not for everyone. Usually it requires a great deal of research and, to be fair, lots of cheap stocks are cheap for a reason (because they are priced appropriately). Even so, there can and should be a place for cheaper/smaller stocks in your portfolio. Adding a careful selection of some of the best cheap stock names could add some excess returns to your bottom line, not to mention a little excitement to your stock picking process as well.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.