NEW YORK (Money Magazine) - It doesn't take an investing genius to pick Microsoft out of a crowd. Now, quickly, guess which fledgling will be the next Microsoft? Or the future Wal-Mart? Or the new General Electric? Distinguishing Average Joe Inc. from blue-chip-to-be is a trickier task.
Why? Even those companies that show early promise can stumble.
Precisely because spotting budding titans is exceedingly difficult, we usually recommend that individuals stick to established companies.
Pick up a future industry titan before the rest of the market catches on, however, and you have the potential for fatter returns on your investment than blue chips usually deliver.
That's why MONEY set out to find companies with all the promise of becoming the market's Next Big Things. Along the way, we learned a lot about exactly what makes good growth companies great.
Continued for subscribers to Money magazine and AOL members. See the traits of great companies, Money magazine's list of 20 stocks that could be the next generation's blue chips, and 5 from that list that are good values now. CONTINUED