The broad market is decidedly down for the past several weeks. But not every stock has been swept up in this bearish tide -- a handful of names have defied the bigger trend and dished out sizable gains over the course of the last quarter. When this happens, there's usually a clearly bullish reason for the disparity.

This doesn't necessarily mean more of the same sort of bullishness is in the cards for these tickers this time around, though.

With that as the backdrop, here's a closer look at the market's three best-performing large-cap stocks for the past three months, followed by some thoughts regarding their foreseeable futures.

Hottest of the hot

Most of the time, the market's leading stocks tend to be related. That's not the case this time, however. Indeed, the hottest large-cap stocks right now are distinctly different from one another.

Constellation Energy (CEG 0.59%) is the least best of the best, up nearly 58% for the past quarter.

This sort of move makes sense for those not familiar with the company. Oil and gas prices are still near sky-high levels, making the business of drilling and refining these fossil fuels a lucrative one. Except, Constellation isn't in the oil and gas drilling business. It's a utility company far removed from fossil fuels. Constellation Energy is the biggest producer of carbon-free energy in the U.S., in fact, leaning on a collection of nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, and even hydro power facilities to generate 32,400 megawatts of electricity. 

And that's a huge deal given two pieces of recently enacted federal legislation. Namely, in June President Biden issued an executive order that in the short run will boost the supply of foreign-made solar panels for U.S. solar companies, but in the long run will ultimately improve domestic production of much-needed panels. The other is August's passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which offers substantial tax credits to nearly every participant in the solar power industry. While the benefit to Constellation Energy isn't immediate, it will be significant; the market's just forward-thinking.

Wolfspeed (WOLF 3.53%) is faring just a tad better than Constellation Energy, up 60% for the past quarter.

It's not a household name, although there's a decent chance you or someone in your household is utilizing one of its products in one way or another. Wolfspeed makes specialized semiconductors for technology companies in need of complex high-power and radio frequency chip solutions, and is the sole supplier for each of those markets. Notably, its tech is needed by the electric vehicle industry, helping support revenue growth of 42% for the fiscal year ending in June. While still in the red, last quarter's loss was much smaller than expected.

Finally, First Solar (FSLR 1.76%) is leaving all other major names in the dust, rallying more than 100% over the past quarter largely for the same underlying reasons Constellation Energy shares did. First Solar, however, may be be better positioned than Constellation is to plug into a more immediate opportunity. Except... keep reading.

To buy, or not to buy?

Their backstories are compelling, and their raw strength is nearly intoxicating. Simply blindly plugging into this bullishness isn't necessarily the right move, though. There's always more to the story, and all stock-picking should be done on a case-by-case basis.

Take Constellation Energy, for instance. There's no denying it's readier for the future of electricity than most of its peers, on pace to be 100% carbon-free by 2040. It's still just a utility company, though, stuck in an industry that's known for anything but growth. It's also an expensive ticker by utility stock standards thanks to its recent run-up, priced at more than 19 times next year's projected per-share profits. While it's a well-grounded company, now is not the time to nibble on the stock.

That's not the case for Wolfspeed.

This chipmaker isn't everyone's proverbial cup of tea. In addition to still being unprofitable and a bit obscure, it's also small and narrowly focused. The stock's also very nearly trading at analysts' consensus target of $119.45, seemingly leaving little upside to tap.

This is one of those cases, however, where it really pays to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

See, it's very much an electric vehicle play, so much so that it's committing $1.4 billion -- just for starters -- to build what will eventually be the world's largest silicon carbide facility. The thing is, not only is the material needed by EVs, but it is also increasingly used in energy storage, charging stations, and by aerospace and defense manufacturers. To this end, analysts expect the current year's top-line growth to mirror last year's pace, with another 42% growth rate projected next fiscal year. That should pull the company well out of the red, with analysts modeling a bottom line of $1.74 per share for its next fiscal year (its currently in the first quarter of fiscal 2023). That's huge.

Perhaps best of all, while well up for the past three months, Wolfspeed shares remain relatively affordable. The stock's still below last November's peak, and still only testing highs touched a few times this year.

As for First Solar, it's an exciting prospect to be sure, but not exactly at this very moment.

The amount of domestic electricity produced by solar is expected to grow from around 5% now to 20% by 2050, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the next five of those years alone could be downright explosive ones. An outlook from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie suggests the country's combined solar power production capacity should swell from 129 gigawatts today to 336 gigawatts as soon as 2027.In this vein, following this year's top line lull linked to logistical challenges, analysts expect First Solar to report 25% revenue growth in 2023. That's just the beginning though. The company is also looking to invest up to $1.2 billion in new production facilities. The will increase its current output by more than 50% as soon as 2025, maximize its share of the solar market's organic growth.

This bigger-picture bullish backdrop won't curb solar stocks' current volatility, however, and First Solar's recent rally leaves it a little too ripe for profit-taking. That's why it's a name to only add to your watch list for now, and wait for a better entry point.