"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 stumble and fall. Usually, the ratings wax optimistic as stocks hit new highs; after all, everyone loves a winner. But what do you make of it when some of the smartest investors out there are panning a hot stock?

You could heed them. You could ignore them. You could take the stock tickers and construct anagrams from 'em. For my money, though, the best course of action is to use the "52-week highs" list as just a starting point for further research. After all, stocks can go up for many reasons, and it's up to you to decide how worthy those reasons are. But thanks to Motley Fool CAPS, now you don't have to make the decision alone.

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 more than 19,500 stock gurus (and counting) have to say about them?

One Year Ago Today

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating

LabCorp (NYSE:LH)




Precision Castparts (NYSE:PCP)




Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL)








Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP)








Macerich (NYSE:MAC)




*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.

Can you feel the love?
One thing these stocks have in common: They're all hitting their 52-week highs. And one other: For the most part, they're highly rated by the CAPS community (because hey, who doesn't love a winner?)

I also can't help but notice two old friends on the list: CDW and LabCorp, both of which have been recommended in the Fool's own Stock Advisor newsletter. Not only have the firms just hit their one-year highs; they've also trounced the market since Tom Gardner initially recommended them to our subscribers, beating the market by 10 and 92 percentage points, respectively. In honor of their appearance on this list, let's reverse the usual procedure -- instead of picking on the weakest-rated stock here (Macerich), let's see what CAPS players are saying about the strongest, LabCorp:

  • Rating the stock an outperformer, CAPS All-Star TheNajdorfDefens argues that "Medicare bills will help them, a best in breed provider."

  • Not necessarily disagreeing with the quality of the company, chiefsfan100 cautions that: "It looks like a pretty good stock, but in the short term, it looks pretty well valued," and rates LabCorp an "underperform."

Time to chime in
It's the eternal question: At what price quality? Should you pay up for "best in breed," or pinch your pennies and look for more of a bargain stock? Whichever way you lean, tell us about it on Motley Fool CAPS. Here, you've got as much right to state your case as any wingtip-wearin' investment banker. So speak your mind, and may the best argument win.

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 148 out of more than 19,500 raters. The Fool has a disclosure policy.