Winning stocks with impressive long-term returns can do more than tantalize investors. They might also guide us to the next great stock. For example, investors in Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) have enjoyed a more than 1,100% return in the past 20 years. And while there's always a debate over whether the company can continue to beat the market, it could lead investors to other, similarly promising stocks today -- provided we know where to look.

Finding the tail on this coat
Established in 1886, Coca-Cola has one of the longest legacies of any American company and one of the strongest brands. Driven by competition from PepsiCo's (NYSE:PEP) Pepsi, Coca-Cola made a short-lived change to its formula in the mid-1980s, but New Coke was a flop. Fortunately, the company's ventures into more flavors of its core soft drink as well as sports and energy drinks, teas, juices, and bottled water have been more successful over the years. With increased efficiencies in its worldwide distribution of its concentrated syrups and drinks, Coca-Cola has converted 6.3% annual revenue growth into 9.2% growth in net income over the past 18 years.

If we can nail down some companies profiting from new trends in the consumer drinks market, or creating a widely recognized brand of their own, we might find a hidden treasure worthy of investment. With a giant like Coca-Cola, investors typically follow conventional wisdom, looking only for direct competitors or partners. This might lead to obvious choices including smaller, specialized soda makers Hansen Natural (NASDAQ:HANS) or Jones Soda (NASDAQ:JSDA), which have been absolutely stellar investments. However, investors who stick to these usual (and richly valued) suspects risk missing opportunities less directly linked to Coca-Cola. More treasures may be found if we extend our view beyond soft-drink makers or into other parts of the world to look for companies leveraging similar attributes that made Coke great.

Motley Fool CAPS can really help us here. The massive Foolish stock database has lots of tools for finding and researching stocks and the people who pick them.

Tagging along with CAPS
With CAPS, investors can look through Coca-Cola's tag list for other companies sporting similar attributes. For instance, Coca-Cola falls under tags such as Beverages - Soft Drinks, Top Brands 2006, and Buffett Stock. In addition, the comments CAPS investors leave regarding rated companies can sometimes lead to similarly attractive investments, whether or not they have a direct connection to Coca-Cola.

These CAPS resources could point investors to one company that is directly connected to Coca-Cola's value chain, South American bottler and Motley Fool Global Gains selection Andina Bottling (NYSE:AKO-A). The company is a major bottler of Coca-Cola products for markets in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. Emerging markets in South America have been generating strong sales growth for Andina, with some regions sporting close to double-digit case volume growth over the past year. While rising commodity prices have been souring margins lately, the company continues to improve its economies of scale and throw off cash, including its trailing 1.9% dividend yield. A full 96% of CAPS players and all 26 All-Stars like the stability of this bottler riding Coca-Cola's coattails, and have voted for American depositary receipts of the company to outperform the S&P going forward.

CAPS also turns up many companies with a less direct connection to Coca-Cola, including building material supplier USG (NYSE:USG). While not obvious, the connection between Coca-Cola and USG is an important one -- famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) chairman Warren Buffett. Smelling opportunity in a once-bankrupt company dealing with the risk of asbestos litigation, the Oracle of Omaha has accumulated a large position in USG since shares have been beaten down below book value. Recently, the stock has been taking more lumps because of the housing slowdown, but some value investors -- including 326 of 364 CAPS All-Stars -- remain bullish on the company's future.

Tail-wagging
Of course, plenty of coattail investments have proved to be mere copycats, ultimately flopping for investors. That's why CAPS is best used as a research tool, not a device to pick stocks for you. Rather than taking anyone else's recommendation, investors should always perform their own due diligence. But you can't beat the information and resources for the price -- namely, 100% free.

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

Andina is one of more than a dozen companies selected by the Global Gains newsletter team. To find some of the greatest investment opportunities beyond our borders, check out the service free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Dave Mock has never worn a coat with tails; he prefers the waiter style. He owns shares of Coca-Cola. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Coca-Cola, Berkshire Hathaway, and USG are Inside Value picks. Berkshire Hathaway is also a Stock Advisor pick. The Fool's disclosure policy is often imitated but never duplicated.