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5 Stocks Approaching Greatness

Rich Duprey
March 8, 2011

Some companies are obviously great investments -- in hindsight. Yet for every stock out there screaming "buy me," others simply give us a nudge and a nod. How can we tell tomorrow's obviously great investments from the thousands of pretenders?

The stars' walk of fame
On Motley Fool CAPS, these opportunities can be found among our four-star stocks, companies that rank higher than most of the other 5,400 starred companies, but fall just short of a top ranking. While all the attention might be focused on their five-star peers, we can sift through CAPS to find four-star firms approaching greatness. Here are a handful of stocks that are approaching greatness.

  • CME Group (NYSE: CME  )
  • Coeur D'Alene Mines (NYSE: CDE  )
  • Endeavour Silver (NYSE: EXK  )
  • Northern Dynasty Minerals (NYSE: NAK  )
  • Vical (Nasdaq: VICL  )

Some of these names might surprise you. For example, biotechs have been taking a drubbing lately as the FDA rejects applications left and right or clinical trials land with a thud. Vical is no different as its stock was crushed last October when its blood vessel regeneration therapy being developed with sanofi-aventis was found to be no more effective than a placebo. Almost great? Even familiar names can still offer some of the best opportunities. Perhaps we've just forgotten the potential they still hold.

The Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project in southwestern Alaska is a veritable gold mine of opportunity for Northern Dynasty Minerals, and helps explain the 150% run-up in its stock of the past six months. As the 170,000-plus CAPS members have chosen these companies as less obvious sources for tomorrow's great buys, let's see why they might merit your attention.

In the sight of greatness?
It could have gotten into a bidding war with Deutsche Bourse for New York Stock Exchange owner NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX  ) , but futures exchange operator CME Group is a closer competitor to the electronic Nasdaq OMX exchange than the Big Board so it makes more sense for it to go after the options exchange leader CBOE Holdings. While the NYSE's derivatives market would have dovetailed well with its own operations, analysts believe it might have raised antitrust concerns, making any bid problematic.

With or without a merger in the works, the 16 analysts covering CME Group are unanimous in believing it will outperform the broad market indexes, and the CAPS All-Star community is bullish too, with 96% expecting it to beat the Street.

You have the option of weighing in on its prospects on the CME Group CAPS page, or add it to your watchlist.

Dirt cheap?
Everyone talks about gold, but silver's been ramping up as well, which helped major silver miner Coeur D'Alene Mines dig deep to produce higher fourth-quarter profits and surging production numbers. CAPS member wowdwarf likes that while it is seen mostly as a silver mi