"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 -- 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?

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 nearly 23,000 stock gurus (and counting) have to say about them?

One Year Ago Today

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating

Australia and New Zealand Banking (NYSE:ANZ)




Westpac Banking




Shinhan Financial Group (NYSE:SHG)




Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile (NYSE:SQM)




Mitsui & Co.




Roche Holding



Not rated

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.

Love is everywhere
Wall Street went globetrotting again last week, snapping up international shares with abandon. In today's list, we see companies representing Korea and Chile, Australia and Switzerland, New Zealand and Japan -- quite a disparate bunch. But they all have one thing in common: They're hitting their 52-week highs. And one other thing: With the sole exception of Roche (which isn't listed on a major U.S. exchange and doesn't get a lot of name recognition), they're highly rated by the CAPS community (because, hey, who doesn't love a winner?) Usually, we have at least one company on this list about which CAPS players express skepticism, but not today. Today, love is everywhere.

I give up
Fine. Be that way. If investors prefer not to name any of these companies a "loser," then we'll simply spin today's column around and write about one of the "winners." Top of the list: A 172-year-old down-under banker with the unimaginative name "Australia and New Zealand Banking Group" -- a somewhat deceptive name, by the way, as the bank's operations actually extend as far north as Vietnam and China, around the globe to the U.K., and all the way to right back here in the U.S. Here's what CAPS investors have to say about it:

LookingBeyond99 writes: "This is a solid bank in emerging markets such as Southeast Asia as well as being a mainstay in Australia, which has the raw materials (such as uranium) to become a bigger player in the near future."

Adding context to the Southeast Asian angle, ValereFan opines that: "Growth outside of US gives a natural hedge to faltering US economy. Consistently increasing large dividend and tied to high growth areas."

Those are just two of the pithier comments from our players. But reading through the full list of comments, two themes emerge. Investors seem to love this bank's exposure to the emerging Vietnamese market, and everyone is impressed with its healthy 4.6% dividend yield.

Time to chime in
But do Vietnam and a 4.6% dividend give enough reason to prefer A&NZ over the other highly rated stocks on today's list? I mean, I see some serious competition up above: Mitsui is one of the biggest names in Japan. Chemical & Mining Co. of Chile (a.k.a. "Sociedad Quimica y Minera") stands to benefit from supplying the lithium needed to make hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius go "zoom." If you've got a dog in this fight, or even just an opinion, drop by CAPS and tell us who you think is the best stock on today's list.

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 34 out of nearly 23,000 raters.