For the 122-year-old University of Arizona, the sky may not be the limit. Among other disciplines, the school excels in its programs for astronomy, astrophysics, planetary sciences, and optical sciences -- a promising plethora of potential investment opportunities.

Thanks to its scientific superiority, UA brings in more than $400 million in research funding annually; it's awarded more NASA grants for space exploration than any other national university. When UA grads aren't jetting around space, they're just as likely to be starting their own business -- in 2006, Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked UA No. 6 among all graduate entrepreneur programs and No. 1 among undergraduate programs. UA's Eller school of business consistently ranks among the top 50 or 60 business schools in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report, though its programs in management information systems and entrepreneurship were ranked No. 4 and No. 17, respectively.

UA's famous grads include Bob Dole, Nicole Richie, Terry Francona, Kenny Lofton, Jerry Bruckheimer, Harrison Ford, and Annika Sorenstam. But here's what Fools really want to know: Who's out there running companies that we can invest in? Cross-referencing data from Capital IQ with The Motley Fool's new investing community service, CAPS, I pulled up a list of some of the top-rated companies that have a University of Arizona grad in a key executive or board position.


UA Grad

LTM Stock Performance

CAPS Rating

Fluor (NYSE:FLR)

Alan Boeckmann, chairman and CEO



Walgreen (NYSE:WAG)

Jeffrey Rein, president and CEO



Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS)

David Henshall, SVP and CFO



Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE)

Donald Felsinger, chairman and CEO



Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU)

J. Eduardo Gonzalez Felix, VP Finance and CFO



Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU)

Gregory Boyce, president and CEO



Fluoring it with Alan
Fluor's chairman and CEO, Alan Boeckmann, is no newcomer to the company. In 1974, shortly after graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in electrical engineering, Boeckmann joined Fluor as an engineer. Boeckmann served in a variety of capacities in his 25-plus years at Fluor before becoming president and chief operating officer in January 2001. A year later, he was boosted to his current position.

In addition to running Fluor, Boeckmann is also a director at the American Petroleum Institute, Archer Daniels Midland, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and the National Petroleum Council; and a member of the Business Roundtable, the World Economic Forum, and UA's College of Engineering's Industry Advisory Council. I feel like a slacker just writing all of that!

Fortunately for Alan, Fluor has done well since he took over. Revenue and profits fell in his second year heading the company, but since then, they're up 64% and 58%, respectively. The stock has fared even better, up almost 300% since the lows it hit in late 2002. Easing oil prices have cooled off the stock since midway through last year, and though backlog growth was very strong last fall, the majority of that growth came from the oil and gas segment.

CAPS players and Wall Street analysts both back the stock. Financial firms Stifel Nicolaus and Morgan Joseph, whose picks tracked in CAPS are ranked in the top 2% of all CAPS players, have given the stock a thumbs-up. Meanwhile, players like pladad4life are recognizing that as long as the roof doesn't fall in on Fluor's oil and gas operations, the company's other segments can also contribute to growth.

pladad4life says: "I anticipate that with the democrats holding power there will be addition government contracts in the next five years. Add to that the oil industry's clamor to build additional refineries and you have two of the most promising areas for growth for this organization."

Then there's the rest
Of course, the above list only displays the stocks to which CAPS players have been kind. Other high-profile companies with UA grads at the helm include Stock Advisor pick NVIDIA, with UA alumnus Marvin Burkett at the chief financial officer post; Rule Breakers pick TASER International, which was co-founded by Wildcat Thomas Smith; and former Inside Value selection Mattel, headed by UA grad Robert Eckert. CAPS players weren't quite as hot on these stocks, giving NVIDIA three stars, while both TASER and Mattel hold two.

Are you still reading this? Click on over to CAPS and let the other 21,000 registered CAPS players know what you think about these stocks, or any of the 3,700 others we've rated so far.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer encourages feedback, little notes just to say "hi," predictions on next fall's college football season, or suggestions on which school to explore next. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You don't need any advanced degrees to know that The Fool's disclosure policy is airtight.