At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we were doing.

But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We'll also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we'll be tracking the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best...
Switzerland's premier banker, Credit Suisse, started off the week on a down beat this morning. Going negative on several of the biggest homebuilders, it slapped sell ratings on Pulte (NYSE:PHM), NVR (NYSE:NVR), and DR Horton (NYSE:DHI) alike. Why all the pessimism? News reports say nothing about the reasoning that drove those inscrutable Swiss to lay waste to the sector. Still, it doesn't take a genius to figure that this has something to do with rising home inventories (the Wall Street Journal reported that inventories rose 6.5% year over year last month), the ongoing subprime mortgage mess, and a general feeling that all's not well in the housing industry.

But if the stock market is truly efficient, as Wall Street Wisdom holds, then couldn't this mean that Credit Suisse's pessimism is overdone? That the housing market's troubles are already baked into these firms' stock prices (down 33%, 13%, and 37% over the last year, respectively)? If so, then Credit Suisse's sell ratings today might not be just late, but also 180 degrees off the mark.

How can an investor know what weight to give an analyst's opinion on questions like these? Why, by turning to Motley Fool CAPS, of course! There, we track the historical performance of 150-odd Wall Street firms -- Credit Suisse included.

Over the eight months we've been monitoring Credit Suisse's picks, the firm has racked up an impressive CAPS rating of 96.00, putting it in the top 5% of CAPS "players." Its accuracy of 56.60% means that the firm is more often right than wrong. A few of its better-performing picks, ended in the last month, have included:

Credit Suisse Says:

CAPS Says (out of five):

Credit Suisse's Pick Beat S&P By:

Ryland (NYSE:RYL)



27 points

Cox Radio (NYSE:CXR)



19 points




17 points

Oneok (NYSE:OKE)



10 points

The one pick that jumps out of the above list is, of course, Ryland -- homebuilding cousin to the firms downgraded this morning. Credit Suisse called that one right in spades, which suggests that firm may well know what it's talking about in downgrading Pulte, NVR, and DR Horton today.

Pity for its customers, though, that it didn't do so sooner.

Who's done a better job of timing the housing market's downfall, and its effects on the homebuilders? Click through to our company-specific CAPS pages to learn the identity of the best-performing investors on these companies:

You may be surprised to learn that the score leader on each is no Wall Street wizard -- but a lay investor, just like you and me.

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 97th out of more than 25,000 raters. Oneok is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.