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How I Can Make You Rich in 3 Years

There are really only two types of companies out there: the disrupters and the disrupted.

What's in your portfolio?

It's not an easy question to answer. Everyone likes to think that their stocks are the lions feasting on the gazelles. They can't even begin to fathom that the speedy gazelles may be the ones turning the tables and gnawing on the overly confident lions. It can be a costly mistake, because knowing the difference separates the market beaters from the blindsided and vanquished.

Thankfully, there's an easy exercise that will help you determine if you're holding the prey or the hunter. I call it the three-year test.

How relevant will the companies in which you invest be in three years? If you can drum up an unbiased response, you will be able to sidestep losers today and load up on winners.

Take three steps back before going three years forward
The hardest step in this exercise is actually approaching your own stocks objectively. Investors are primarily optimists, so the art of detachment, and pondering the worst-case scenario, is not entirely natural.

Do it, though. You want to make money -- perhaps a whole lot of money -- in this market, don't you?

Let me cut to the jugular. You may very well own Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) -- it's one of the more widely held stocks in the country. Now can you honestly explain to me how the market leader in pouring out premium java will be as relevant in 2012 as it is in 2009?

Sure, we may very well be consuming more lattes in three years, but they will likely come from a wider realm of brewers. Even if you believe that the company can ramp up its menu with items like oatmeal and smoothies to expand its magnetism, all that will do is dilute the brand. The company isn't closing down stores and trimming payroll because it sees a brighter future. Why should investors?

The other side of the Starbucks coin is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR  ) . Now, here is a company that can clearly matter more in three years. The company is growing quickly with its Keurig machines that brew single-cup portions of premium coffee with its proprietary K-cup refills. The company sold more than twice as many brews over the holidays as it did the year before. How many of those do you think were snapped up by ex-Starbucks customers?

Dig for disruptors
Every company believes that no one else can build a better mouse trap. Shareholders know better. Disruptors always come along. Heck, even disruptors get disrupted. Remember when AOL owned online connectivity, and Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX  ) were the cozy footwear of choice? Speedier AOL alternatives and a fashion shift away from ugly hole-punched shoes turned the hunters into the hunted.

If you want to beat the market, the first step is to stay ahead of the market. Where are the disruptors today? They're everywhere, if you know where to look. Here are four I'm eyeing:

  • (NYSE: CRM  ) is giving companies a cheaper way to run enterprise software by running the applications on salesforce's servers.
  • Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG  ) has run into a few speed bumps lately, but it's still revolutionizing the operating table with its robotic surgical arms that help increase the efficiency of surgeons and reduce fatigue.
  • Rackspace (NYSE: RAX  ) is growing quickly as a Web-hosting specialist at a time when more companies need a dependable online presence. Its fastest-growing business right now is hosting cloud computing applications.
  • Smart Balance (Nasdaq: SMBL  ) is a premium maker of heart-healthy buttery spreads that is actually gaining market share at a time when one would think that penny-pinchers would be gravitating to cheaper spreads. Eat your heart out, Starbucks!

How did I come across these disruptors? Well, I'm one of the analysts on the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter team. Two of these stocks -- and Intuitive Surgical -- are active recommendations. Subscribers can also unearth superior growth stock ideas on the lively discussion boards, where members pick apart potential winners.

These are companies that I can see mattering a lot more in the future. They specialize in niche industries that can take down -- or revolutionize -- larger sectors. They pass my three-year test.

Sorry, Starbucks. You flunked with fading colors.

Join me and my fellow subscribers in sniffing out the next wave of market-thumping disruptors. I invite you to check out Motley Fool Rule Breakers free for the next 30 days.

This article was originally published on March 3, 2009. It has been updated.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of disruptive growth stocks and has been part of the Rule Breakers analyst team since its inception nearly five years ago. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story., Intuitive Surgical, and Green Mountain Coffee are Rule Breakers selections. Starbucks is a pick in both Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Inside Value, as well as a Motley Fool holding. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (20)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2009, at 4:31 PM, reggidmalc wrote:

    Green Mountain is a Peter Lynch winner based on personal esperience ...we have 3 Keurigs in our B&B and the guests love them. Great brewer and great coffees, teas and hot chocolate. Oh, and by the way a low capital, razorblade business model. Imagine how they will grow when the Tully's/West Coast market comes on stream.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2009, at 5:13 PM, luvcoffee wrote:

    Speaking of other company to check out is JAVO Beverage (JAVO). They make a coffee concentrate that will revolutionaize coffee drinking. Better tasting, less cost, and easier to use/make than starbucks. They already have great contracts in place with 7-11 and other convenience chains and who knows what is next but the sky is the limit for these guys!

  • Report this Comment On April 04, 2009, at 1:31 PM, kurtdabear wrote:

    GMCR stock will probably do more to keep you awake nights over the next few years than their coffee will. They have an astronomical PE, no dividend, and trade at many multiples of book value. On top of that, a score of insiders have recently bailed out of nearly a million shares. More than likely, the reason the stock is sitting at a 52-week high is that it's in a short squeeze since over half the float is currently being shorted.

    And what about that booming business? With travel diminishing, hotel rooms going vacant, offices and plants closing, lay-offs rising, and commercial vacancies skyrockerting, how fast do you think their commerical receipts are going to be growing?

    Also, with high-end retail and luxury purchases tanking even among well-off consumers, how much growth do you think they're going to see in their retail machines and products?

    Anyone planning to make money on this stock had better be voting with the short-sellers.

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