"The bigger they are, the harder they fall." This old saying sums up the worst nightmare of every homeowner, every gold buyer, and every investor in today's market. Dare ye buy at the top?

Every day, MSN Money publishes a list of the market's top stocks -- the companies whose shares have just hit their highest intraday price of any time in the past 52 weeks. Every day, investors read this list and tremble -- some with greed (big mo', baby!), and others in pure, unmitigated, acrophobic terror (whatever you do, don't look down).

Over on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors just like you are watching these same companies and voting their gut on whether they'll keep rising, or whether they'll stumble and fall. Usually, the ratings wax optimistic as stocks hit new highs -- because everyone loves a winner. But what do you make of it when some of the smartest investors out there are panning a hot stock?

Then, dear Fool, it's time to get nervous.

With that said, let's meet today's list of contenders, drawn from the latest "52-week highs" list at MSN Money. What does our panel of 14,000 stock gurus (and counting) have to say about them?

One Year Ago


CAPS Rating*

Mark el (NYSE:MKL)




PetroChina (NYSE:PTR)




Alleghany CP (NYSE:Y)




Boeing (NYSE:BA)




Phelps Dodge (NYSE:PD)




Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT)




Public Storage (NYSE:PSA)




*Five stars = highest possible CAPS rating; one star = lowest

Companies are selected from the "New 52-Week Highs" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

What price love?
Unsurprisingly, Fools aren't exactly hating on today's hot stocks. To the contrary, better than half of the stocks listed in this table receive average ratings (three stars) or better. What may surprise the momentum traders who love to buy hot stocks, though, is the prices attached to these outperformers -- they're "expensive."

That's right, Fools, some of the best stocks on the market, and the ones that have done best by their shareholders, aren't penny-stock wonders at all. They're respectable, NYSE-listed companies with triple-digit price tags . proving once again what we've always preached here at the Fool: Share price just doesn't matter. What matters is the value of the corporate pie -- not how many slices it's been divided into.

Skepticism and optimism
While an "expensive" share price doesn't necessarily mean a stock is overpriced, however, sometimes a spade is, in fact, a spade. Take one-star Public Storage, for example, where our raters are decidedly mixed in their enthusiasm over the stock's rise to the top.

  • The Fool's own TMFMeow, following Peter Lynch's buy-what-you-know maxim, writes: "I used them in my relocation -- smooth and perfect great product if they manage their business as well as their products -- its all good."
  • All-star investor 50day, however, is concerned that "some the directors and institutions are selling large positions" and argues that the stock is likely to underperform the S&P.

Who's right? Who's wrong? On Motley Fool CAPS, you've got as much right to state your case as any of us "professional" Fools do. Tell us what you think, and may the best argument win.

Fool contributorRich Smithdoes 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 291 out of nearly 15,000 raters. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.