At The Motley Fool, we have our fun with the Wall Street analysts.

We mock their pinstripe-and-wingtip attire. Their multimillion-dollar bonuses. And not unrelatedly, their failure to recognize the Tech Bubble -- or worse, their recognizing it, and then putting lipstick on the pig and pimping it to the individual investor. What's more, their ceaseless stream of upgrades and downgrades, sometimes on one and the same stock, and just days apart, make Jim Cramer look like a poster boy for the "long-term-buy-and-hold" movement.

As such, it may look a bit out of place for us to introduce this newest occasional feature: This Just In. Here, I'll be taking an ad hoc magnifying glass to some of the hottest analyst upgrades and downgrades of the hour.

Isn't that a little hypocritical?
Guilty as charged -- if that were all I'm doing. Because the fact of the matter is that an analyst's upgrading or downgrading a stock means little when viewed in isolation -- all the more so when you consider the heft of the firms doing the "analyzing." When a Bank of America or a JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) issues a downgrade, the mere publication of the news often suffices to spark a sell-off and "prove" the analyst right -- in the short term.

What's more significant is the analyst's record over the long term. And that's what we'll be focusing on in this column.

Mr. Market? Meet Mr. CAPS.
With the debut of Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's new tool for rating everything from stocks to investors to analysts to the long-term durability of the Toyota Corolla (give us some time on that last one), we're taking a magnifying glass not just to the short-term meanderings of Mr. Market's mind. With CAPS, we'll be tracking the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best ...
Early Tuesday morning, banking powerhouse JPMorgan Chase upgraded the stock of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) for the second time in as many months. In suggesting that investors "overweight" the stock in their portfolios (equivalent to an "outperform the S&P" rating on CAPS), JP thinks Darden can continue turning in same-store-sales growth sufficient to increase its profits by 10% to 15% per annum over the next year. It likes what it sees at Darden's Olive Garden chain and expects to see improving stats at Red Lobster.

How much weight should you give to JP's opinion? Well, its score in CAPS is pretty impressive. But on Darden in particular, JP's timing seems suspect. The firm last upgraded Darden on Nov. 20, and in the time since, the stock has declined 3% in value against a 2% rise in the S&P.

JP isn't the only firm to have trouble getting a good read on this stock, however. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) made an even worse call on Sept. 21, when it canceled its "sell" rating and replaced it with a "neutral" one. Result: Darden's stock declined 5.6% over the past four months, while the S&P headed the other way -- up 8.6%.

Who does understand Darden? You may be surprised to learn that the highest-rated CAPS player on the stock isn't an investment bank at all. Click here to find out who knows Darden best.

And for more on Darden Restaurants, check out:

Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. For more coverage of the market's best dividend-paying stocks, check out Income Investor free for 30 days.

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 30 out of nearly 20,000 raters. The Fool has a disclosure policy.