At this time of the year, when lying on the beach on vacation makes for lazy daydreams, it's not uncommon to consider the possibility of hitting it big in stocks.

If you've been investing for a while, you realize this is not the same as trying to hit a lottery jackpot. The lottery is about luck. A big stock market win, instead, would combine a little study with foresight, courage and a dash of bravado. Sure, your $10,000 wager on a few low-priced names could blow up and leave you with nothing. But what if your idea actually worked out and you had an extra 10 grand in your brokerage account in 12 months?

Normally it's my job to warn you away from reckless speculation. But just this once I'll be the enabler of your bad conscience. Let's throw caution to the wind and think about what kinds of stocks have the potential to go up 100%, 300% or even more over the next year.

Three Categories of Doubles

There are at least three types of stocks that could double in the next year:

  • Low-priced unknowns that already are rising at a strong clip, well below the media's radar.

  • Low-priced, well-known companies that have been slammed in the dirt in well-publicized, news-related smackdowns.

  • Companies of any price or fame that represent good business doing the right things, albeit at a more accelerated pace than their peers.

    That last group is the most tantalizing, for we can all imagine that kind of success for our stodgier stocks. So we'll look for those, while at the same time seeking oddball micro-caps with potential for big success, or larger outfits that have suddenly fallen on hard times for reasons that could be reversed before too long.

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