Investors always like a winning story. Impressive long-term returns from companies such as Microsoft, Hansen Natural, and Wal-Mart captivate our attention and serve as a guide for finding the next great stock. Investors in microprocessor king Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) have taken part in a great story as well -- stock in the historic chip maker has risen 2,760% in the past 20 years.

But Intel has struggled to maintain historic growth rates recently, and the stock has only appreciated 33% over the last five years, underperforming the S&P by 21%. And while there is much debate today as to whether Intel will reverse the trend and beat the market going forward, there are many alternatives to profiting from a company that has already proven itself a winner. Riding the coattails of an industry-creating company can sometimes be even more profitable for investors, but it helps to know where to look first.

Finding the tail on this coat
Of course, many investors have chosen to invest in processor competitor AMD (NYSE:AMD), believing the company has the right stuff to take over Intel's throne. But there are many other alternatives beyond direct competitors of Intel that investors may find attractive. Conventional wisdom about coattail companies is sometimes too limited -- there are several ways companies can derive sustained growth from a booming sector led by an aging giant. For instance, a company may perform related services for a widely distributed product, address an overlooked niche in a related market, or even offer products or services that address the fabrication of semiconductor materials and parts.

So how would an investor spot compelling opportunities connected to Intel's success? If we can nail down companies profiting from the burgeoning ecosystem Intel has created, maybe we'll find a hidden gem worthy of investment. This is where Motley Fool CAPS can really help; the massive stock database has lots of tools for finding and researching stocks and stock pickers.

Tagging along with CAPS
With CAPS, investors can look through Intel's tag list for other companies sporting similar attributes. For instance, Intel has tags such as "semiconductors" and "nanotechnology." Additionally, links to Motley Fool analyses, news releases, and discussion boards are also at your fingertips.

Another powerful tool in the community is the comments other investors register on companies. Often, the commentary contains peer analysis and recommendations for other related companies. Sometimes these resources turn up companies that have little or no direct connection to Intel, but have similar qualities or attributes that could make them attractive investments.

Perusing the tags, comments, and blogs could lead an investor to interesting companies such as smaller fabless semiconductor suppliers Techwell (NASDAQ:TWLL) and Silicon Image (NASDAQ:SIMG). Both companies develop products focused on growth in the video and imaging area of semiconductors -- Techwell builds products for LCD displays for security and automotive applications, while Silicon Image designs chips to handle bandwidth-intensive applications like high-definition television. Another interesting prospect, Omnivision (NASDAQ:OVTI), builds the silicon that captures images in devices such as cell phones.

Other companies in related areas that tingle my investing nose are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection Universal Display (NASDAQ:PANL) and Marvell Technology (NASDAQ:MRVL). Display technology developer Universal Display just got an analyst upgrade based on the prospect of its OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology supplanting current LCD display technology in millions of consumer products. And Marvell's stock has been taking a beating recently, making the fast-growing chip maker an interesting consideration for a turnaround play. Of course, stock-option backdating hasn't helped the company's reputation, but then again, the stock wouldn't be priced where it is without it.

Of course, plenty of coattail investments have proven to be shallow companies or copycats that ultimately flopped for investors. For this reason, CAPS is best used as a research tool and a means to find investments, not as a device to pick stocks for you. Investors should always perform their own due diligence on companies rather than take a blanket recommendation. But you can't beat the information and resources for the price -- which, by the way, is free.

Is there another stock you know about that has Intel's wind in its sails? Give your own opinion in Motley Fool CAPS.

Universal Display was spotted and recommended by the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service two years ago, before it rose more than 68%. To see what other game-changing companies are being recommended, test out a free 30-day trial of the service.

Fool contributor Dave Mock has never worn a coat with tails, and prefers the waiter style. He owns shares of Intel. Wal-Mart, Intel and Microsoft are Inside Value choices. Universal Display is a Rule Breakers pick. Dave is the author of  The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy is imitated but never duplicated.