Wall Street's Wish List

"Actions speak louder than words."

It's an old saying with more than a grain of truth to it, I'll warrant. So why is it that when the Wall Street firms merely "initiate coverage" or "upgrade" their ratings on a company, that gets all the news coverage? After all, those are only words, when what really matters is how the big boys act. Luckily for Wall Street watchers, finding out which professionals put their money where their corporate mouthpieces are has become relatively easy in this Internet age of ours. All we have to do is read MSN Money's list of which companies the Street is most actively buying.

But once we've done that, what next? After all, "Monkey see, monkey do" may not make for the soundest of investment strategies. That's where Motley Fool CAPS can help. The Fool's newest venture into the realm of collective intelligence collects ratings from more than 60,000 lay and professional analysts, then overweights the most successful raters' opinions to come up with a "CAPS rating" from one to five stars (five being the best). If Wall Street's buying and the smartest investors in Fooldom say they're right to do so, then that should get your attention.

And so, let's meet today's list of contenders:

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating

Clean Energy Fuels  (NASDAQ:CLNE)

$15.50

****

Morningstar  (NASDAQ:MORN)

$59.17

****

Southwest Water  (NASDAQ:SWWC)

$13.32

****

Green Mountain Coffee  (NASDAQ:GMCR)

$33.32

***

Blue Nile  (NASDAQ:NILE)

$86.00

***

Under Armour (NASDAQ:UA)

$61.97

***

Luminex  (NASDAQ:LMNX)

$13.95

**

Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Up Last Month" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. Price increase and current pricing also provided by MSN Money on the same date. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Wall Street vs. Main Street
Wall Street's top picks get a generally positive reception from Main Street this week. Three earn ratings above average, and three more just so-so, and only one earns below-average marks. Faced with three four-star stocks to choose between, I'm going to profile the one that (1) has the most ratings to its name, and (2) has the most colorful pitches. (Consider this a word to the Foolish: If you want your "name up in lights" in this column, writing pitches like the brilliant Fools we quote below is a good way to get there.)

And now, without further ado, we review ...

The bull case for Clean Energy Fuels
CAPS All-Star PauvrePapillon introduces us to the company:

Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) is the pioneer in providing natural gas for fleet vehicles. The firm was founded by Boone Pickens ... Does this guy know how to make money? Hint: he started Mesa with a bachelors degree in geology and $2,500. His net worth is now somewhere north of $3 billion. ... And does anybody know more about energy than Boone Pickens? None of the major networks must believe so because BP is always their first choice for an opinion on energy issues. ... don't bet against Boone Pickens. Mid to long-term, Clean Energy is a winner.

jeffro323 continues the story:

Forget cooking with gas, Clean Energy Fuels is driving with gas. Natural gas, that is. The company operates about 170 gas stations in the US and Canada where its 200 customers can tank up their fleet vehicles with compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Clean Energy also helps customers buy and finance natural gas vehicles and obtain government incentives. The company buys CNG from local utilities and produces LNG at its 35-million-gallon-capacity plant in Texas.

Finally, marc64 gives us a peek at the future of Clean Energy in the U.S.:

Germany already has NG filling stations, and a friend reports that his gasoline equivalence is 140 mpg. ... Businesses with large fleets (UPS, municipal bus systems, taxis, etc.) will be first to invest and adopt in NG fuel. ... Once the concept is clearly in people's mind, people will buy NG cars, and fill up at home (its already being done) ... Once that concept is clearly in people's mind, retail NG filling stations will use the extensive NG pipe network to create retail NG filling stations.

Intrigued yet? Well, before you get too excited, let's take a quick trip through the dark side of clean energy. To begin with, the firm only debuted on the Nasdaq in May, and has not yet filed an earnings report -- so we've got very little in the way of a track record to work with. What we do know is that while Clean Energy has been growing its sales and gross margins, its operating and net margins are drowning in red ink. Also, poetically for a natural gas distributor, Clean Energy's business continues to be fueled by burning cash -- nearly $33 million of it over the last 12 months.

On the plus side, with the cash it raised from its IPO, that should suffice to keep Clean Energy on the road for at least the next four years at that current rate of cash consumption.

Time to chime in
Of course, the aim of this column isn't just to tell you what I think about Wall Street's favorite stocks -- or even what our All-Stars are saying. We also want to hear what you know about the company. Is Clean Energy the wave of the future? Will electricity kill the natural gas-fueled car? If you know the answers, come on over to CAPS and clue us in.

Motley Fool CAPS: It's fun, it's free, and it just might make you famous.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 230 out of more than 60,000 rated players. Blue Nile is both a Rule Breakers and a Hidden Gems newsletter selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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