We asked our Foolish analysts to pick their favorite Rule Maker, and the results were surprising. While some of the usual suspects like Coca-Cola and Cisco did make the list, newcomers MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) and First Data (NYSE:FDC) emerged as leaders in their respective industries. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), once a quintessential Rule Breaker, now apparently makes the rules in Internet search and advertising.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is who didn't make the list. No one supported perennial powerhouses Dell (NYSE:DELL), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Are these stalwarts losing their lead over their competitors? This chart suggests that may be the case.

For those new to the game, here's what we look for in a quality Rule Maker company:

  • Strong, well-known brands.
  • Mass-market products or services that are purchased repeatedly.
  • High margins and sales growth.
  • Strong balance sheet and low debt.
  • Discounted stock price.
  • Expanding possibilities.

These traits lead us to companies with sustainable competitive advantages and high returns on capital, providing us (hopefully) with long-term outperformance. Read the arguments below to determine which company is the best Rule Maker.

Coca-Cola, Dell, First Data, Intel, and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Discover more Rule Maker stock ideas with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Dell and Disney are Stock Advisor recommendations.

Joey Khattab does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.