America spells cheese K-R-A-F-T. But is this an indictment of the U.S. education system, or a reason to feel hopeful that when Kraft (NYSE:KFT) reports its Q1 2007 numbers tomorrow, the beloved brand's growth story will resume?

There will be time aplenty to dissect the details after Kraft reports. But in these few hours before we begin obsessing over its short-term progress, let's take a moment to review what investors think about Kraft as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 27,000 investors for their views on well more than 4,000 companies, Kraft among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
Nearly 300 investors have submitted ratings on Kraft. The verdict: This cheese smells funny.

By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, CAPS players in general, and "All-Star" investors in particular, vote in favor of Kraft outperforming the market. That may sound impressive, but when subjected to our CAPS rating system, in which we give special weight to the opinions of our very best investors, it's only enough to win Kraft two out of five possible stars.

In comparison to its peer group on CAPS, though, Kraft's below-average rating actually looks pretty average, placing it in the middle of the pack:

Food -- Major Diversified

CAPS rating (out of five)

Groupe Danone (NYSE:DA)


General Mills (NYSE:GIS)






ConAgra (NYSE:CAG)


Campbell (NYSE:CPB)


Sara Lee (NYSE:SLE)


Wall Street vs. Main Street
When you ask the investors who supposedly know the most about investing -- Wall Street analysts -- they, too, are less than enthused over Kraft. Thirteen of the 19 analysts polled think Kraft will only pace the market's growth.

What's more, if you examine the stock's performance over the last 52 weeks, you'll see that these abstainers called it right -- Kraft's roughly even with the S&P's performance over the past year.

Brass tacks
So why isn't America spelling Kraft B-U-Y? Let's find out.

Bull pitch
The top-rated Kraft pitch on CAPS comes from an investor with a sub-20 rating -- one who's currently underperforming at least 80% of his fellow investors. It hews closely to the party line: that Kraft "will always have customers as long as people still eat."

Bear pitch
Ah, say the bears -- but how much will those customers be eating? The top-rated anti-Kraft pitch points out that Kraft has "had no growth for several years and none projected next year." It's hard to get investors enthused over a story like this.

Who said that?
To learn the identities of the wise Fools who penned these words, and explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here.

Kraft is an Income Investor pick. For more great stocks that pay great dividends, check out a 30-day free trial of the newsletter.

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. 220 out of nearly 27,000 raters. The Fool spells disclosure policy A-W-E-S-O-M-E.