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Can you spot the next Apple?

By Greg Guenthner · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

Apple's stylish, game-changing tech products defined a decade. Its stock -- which rose from as low as $6 in 2003 to nearly $700 in 2012 -- also minted its share of millionaires.

However, after trending lower for 10 months, Apple stock is losing its luster. The stock is down nearly 25 percent year-to-date. Technology blogs are begging for new products that have yet to surface. It appears the world has moved on from its obsession with all things Apple.

So where should investors turn next? What stocks on the market today have the potential to generate the stellar returns we witnessed from Apple over the past decade?

On their quest to find the next great company on Wall Street, many investors will turn to start ups and fresh initial public offerings, or IPOs. While these smaller companies might have great potential, it could be many years before they are able to achieve the sustainable growth Apple experienced during the early 2000s.

Remember, Apple was already a large, well-known company before releasing groundbreaking products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. I'd venture a guess that the next company to follow in its footsteps will be a household name that is able to capture the world's imagination.

The key ingredients that could help propel the world's next truly great company to dizzying heights will probably include technology, innovation and market share. With these themes in mind, let's check out a few potential candidates:

First up is electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors. Tesla endured plenty of skepticism from the automobile community and analysts in the years leading up to the release of its critically acclaimed Model S sedan.

On top of the company's newly glowing reputation, the media have already begun comparing CEO Elon Musk to the late Steve Jobs.  If Tesla can continue to wow the auto industry and develop into a true competitor to the big, traditional automakers, the company could be on to something big. Not only would it officially legitimize the electric vehicle industry, it could also change the world and line investors' pockets in the process.

Next up is tech giant Google. Google has already solidified itself as the king of search, and the stock has provided impressive gains to long-term investors (the 10-year return on Google shares is more than 700 percent).

But Google is looking to go big yet again with the introduction of Google Glass. This potentially revolutionary technology could one day change the way people interact with computers. It could also transform Google from an impressive, innovative technology firm into the most powerful company in the world. If Google can launch a successful brick-and-mortar store network to promote and sell Glass and other products, it could help springboard its shares much like Apple did when it opened its first stores in 2003.

Finally, the last candidate is Amazon.com. Born out of the tech bubble, Amazon wasn't always the online retailing giant we know today. However, over the past few years, Amazon has proven that it has indeed been a company ahead of its time.

The launch of the Kindle, Kindle Fire and its Prime service have helped drastically expand the former online bookstore's business. Now, with a fresh deal from Viacom that includes more than 3,000 episodes of programming, Amazon looks to beat out Netflix in the streaming-content department.

A lot will happen in the world over the next 10 years. When we finally have a chance to reflect on the great corporate achievements of the next decade, I wouldn't be surprised if one of these companies topped the list.

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