Defying the conventional wisdom that no mortal can outsmart the market, this study of fabulous stock run-ups of the last century argues that ordinary investors can learn to spot winners. Jones, CEO of Worth Magazine, examines past and present Wall Street darlings like Coca-Cola, Avon and Intel to illuminate why some stocks take off and others stagnate. His corporate histories are stylish and informative, and they engagingly introduce novices to price/earnings ratios, book value, return on equity and other measures of a stock's potential. Some telltale signs emerge: firms with patents on hot technologies, like Polaroid, are sure bets, as are those that maintain monopoly pricing power by continually innovating ahead of the competition, like Intel. Other signs, however, are less clear-cut. A company reorganization, a new CEO or an inspired ad campaign can all unpredictably affect a stock, and one pointer drawn from the General Electric saga is to ""have faith...if you like the management and believe in them, stick with the company."" Such ""lessons"" make the notion that average investors can pick the right stock at the right time seem shaky indeed. The problem, as Jones makes clear, is that there are many methods of evaluating stocks that don't always tell the same story, and many competing corporate strategies that may or may not pan out depending on a host of imponderables. Investors without the benefit of hindsight or time to pore over annual reports should beware.