Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) is up nearly 25% today after the company posted its second consecutive blowout quarter. Year-over-year sales grew 72%, from $35.5 million to $60.9 million. Earnings rose 241%. And all this from a company that looked very expensive in March, when it was trading at a price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) of 71.

That was about a double ago.

That is why we invest in Rule Breaking stocks
Naysayers bray that the high-growth opportunities Fool co-founder David Gardner and his team are chasing are purely speculative. The value mavens tell them that they might as well throw their money into Powerball.

Yet Rule Breaking investingworks. The companies that the team uncovers are truly poised to change the world. Of course, some fail. Taser (NASDAQ:TASR) is the biggest loser on the list, down 75%. But because the upside of the winners is so enormous, the losses incurred along the way end up being nothing more than entertaining stock stories for cocktail parties.

David's own portfolio is evidence of this power. Although he's been disappointed by the performances of Taser, InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI), and JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU), he's comforted by the success of Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The common thread of all these companies -- winners and losers alike -- is that each had (or still have) the potential to fundamentally alter the way we enforce our laws or travel coast to coast or fight disease or even drink our morning coffee. In short, they change the way we live our lives. The key, of course, is to use trend analysis to find these companies before they are multibillion-dollar firms. Trend analysis isn't as clear-cut as some of the value metrics that many individual investors use, but David has shown that it can be just as powerful.

For its part, Intuitive Surgical is fundamentally changing the way hospital patients receive treatment. The company makes multi-armed surgical robots that give more patients the opportunity to have minimally invasive surgery rather than open incision. The machines have improved clinical outcomes and reduced the burden of surgery on patients. More and more hospitals are adding the systems to their facilities -- 30 were sold in the last quarter. That not only immediately boosts Intuitive's top and bottom lines, but it also gives the company a substantial amount of recurring revenue by selling accessories, instruments, training, and service. That is an incredibly profitable and protected business model and makes for very fun investing.

Do your own trend analysis
Master investor Peter Lynch was famous for his trips to shopping malls in order to spot emerging trends. That's certainly one way to spot tomorrow's great companies before the rest of the investing world. But there are some other ways to find trends as well:

  1. Read. Read everything you can, from the daily newspaper to obscure trade publications.
  2. Pay attention to what kids want for their birthdays. Young people are generally the world's earliest adopters. From video games to e-commerce, the kids were doing it first.
  3. Ask folks how they're doing. The perfect question to ask is: "Has anything made your life or job easier or more efficient in the past month?" I asked this of a doctor friend recently, and I learned a lot about digitized medical records.

By keeping your eyes open and spotting emerging trends, you can identify a number of potential big winners before the broader market. That's what the team at Rule Breakers endeavors to do with experts in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and early adopters.

To join David and his team in the hunt for the next next big thing, click here to take a 30-day free trial to Rule Breakers. You'll have access to all of the previous picks and buy reports as well as immediate access to the two newest picks when they are released next month.

Foolish final thoughts
The big winner is getting to be a recurring theme for the Rule Breakers collection of recommendations. In fact, of the 28 picks on the newsletter's scorecard, three have already increased in value by more than 100%. That's since the newsletter's inception in October 2004. Taking everything into account, the Rule Breakers picks are up an average of 11.85% since their recommendations, compared with the S&P's 0.78%.

As an individual investor, there's nothing quite as much fun as watching a stock you own skyrocket in a single day. I know, I know, we're here for the long term. We're buy-to-hold guys. The day-to-day fluctuations don't matter; it's five, 10, 20 years down the road that we care about. And of course it's irresponsible of me to talk with such glee about the short-term machinations of the market -- Intuitive could come crashing down tomorrow and I'll feel like an idiot. Although I sincerely doubt that disaster scenario because when you've hit on the next big thing, well, you've hit on the next big thing.

Roger Friedman owns shares of Intuitive Surgical, but no other companies mentioned in this article. JetBlue is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.