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Mapping The Minefield

Since the first stock market opened, one question has always been foremost in investors' minds: How can I make money? That, of course, was a cinch during the most recent, two-decade-long bull market. Simply tossing money into an index fund was sufficient to net investors huge gains. No longer. In today's choppy markets, picking the right stocks is imperative. BusinessWeek has put together a map to help you steer through the market's minefields to those companies with potential for gains. A few stocks in the technology, health-care, specialty retail, financial services, and energy sectors pass muster, as do some foreign companies and U.S.-based multinationals. Time and again, we look for uncomplicated companies with strong balance sheets that sell for less than their peers--and mutual funds run by managers who choose similar stocks--as the most promising way to come out ahead.

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