Think of investor sentiment as a pendulum that swings in tandem with a company's share price. When investors begin to think highly of your company, its stock might also start heading in the right direction. Alas, you can rarely tell when investors are warming to a stock until after it's made that upward swing.

An astrolabe for investors
But Motley Fool CAPS' proprietary ratings, aggregated from the opinions and accuracy of 125,000-plus members, offer a great way to monitor investor sentiment. Like astronomers scanning the skies, investors can follow a stock's stars through its CAPS rating trend, tracking investor sentiment to help determine the best time to invest. Data suggests that CAPS' highest-rated stocks performed best while the lowest-rated did worst, so let's look at previously rated one- or two-star companies that have recently enjoyed a bump in investor confidence and see whether the stars are really aligning in their favor.

Company

CAPS Rating
(5 max)

Recent Price

Next Year Estimated EPS Growth

AerCap Holdings (NYSE:AER)

***

$5.56

(12%)

BB&T (NYSE:BBT)

***

$19.40

(23%)

Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ:CYPB)

***

$8.64

181%

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR)

***

$3.98

30%

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM)

***

$51.82

9%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance.

Obviously, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- just a starting point for further research. Yet if some of the best investing minds are taking notice of these stocks, maybe we should, too.

The sun's always shining somewhere
CAPS member Hushuobadao thought Research In Motion had little going for it, and that the rumored release of an iPhone Nano was going to be its last undoing. Now that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has officially quashed that rumor, saying it doesn't plan on playing in the shallow end of the phone sandbox, perhaps this investor will think better of the Storm or Bold:

Canadians should be proud Blackberry had a monoply until iPhone came along.

[Research In Motion] lost market share in the U.S. instantly, but still had markets in the world where iPhone had no telecommunications provider(especially in Canada) until Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE:RCI) with subdidiary Fido Solutions provided iPhone to Canadian public. What really will hurt [Research In Motion] is when iPhone nano is released in mid-2009. The only strength [Research in Motion] has is the government, corporate, bussiness of various sizes clientele.

A general sinking feeling?
Feeling the effects of real estate loan losses in Georgia and Florida, lender BB&T saw its profits decline 26% from a year ago. CAPS member Running4Matt admitted last week that he's not particularly familiar with the metrics one needs to use to evaluate a financial concern like BB&T, but he figures if the dividend holds, it could bounce well off of its 52-week lows:

To me- it seems that if BB&T can maintain their yield- it may be attractive to buy on dips and let the dividends work to the investor advantage. One concern that I need to point out though is that BB&T set a new 52 week low only two days ago- so it would appear that it could fall more. But to balance things- BB&T was up yesterday- closing $1 higher than the day low and recovered significantly, (up 1.30) in premarket trading today. In only two days- BB&T has gone from a 52 week low of 18.43 to a high of 21 (if you consider premarket activity this morning).

Shine your starlight
So, are these stocks driving ahead or ready to crash? It pays to start your research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made -- all from a stock's CAPS page. Then weigh in with your own thoughts on which stocks you think are shooting stars or supernovas. Since it's free to sign up and post your thoughts, why not use this opportunity to take your star turn?

BB&T is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Apple is a Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.