Surprises are part of the game when it comes to picking stocks. Sometimes this can mean bad news, like one of your top stocks revealing that management has been backdating options.

Other times, though, the market gets caught off guard by positive surprises from stocks that most investors thought were down for the count. In this situation, investors who stood by the stock often break out into a chorus of "I told you so," as short sellers are forced to figure out just how much pain they can take.

To dig up some of these unloved stocks that have been defying naysayers, I'm turning once again to The Motley Fool's CAPS community. Each of the companies below had been given a one-star rating (the lowest) by our community of investors just 30 days ago:

Stock

30-Day Return

One-Year Return

Current CAPS Rating

Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX)

38.6%

138.9%

*

Discovery Laboratories (NASDAQ:DSCO)

34.4%

15.7%

*

NVE Corp. (NASDAQ:NVEC)

30.1%

125.3%

*

Brooke Corp. (NASDAQ:BXXX)

29.0%

22.7%

**

Delta Financial (NASDAQ:DFC)

28.6%

13.8%

**

Dune Energy (AMEX:DNE)

26.4%

(42.5%)

*

Wendy's (NYSE:WEN)

25.3%

38.8%

*

Data from Motley Fool CAPS as of May 9.

It's important to remember that some of these stocks, particularly the smaller, more volatile ones, could just as easily reverse these big gains over the next 30 days. In some cases, though, the strength could be a sign that the prospects for the company have changed for the better, or that it had been beaten down just a little too far.

So the question with these stocks is: Are they better than CAPS players had thought, or are they just singing that proverbial swan song? The best way to get a feel for where these guys are headed is to dig in and do some research. I thought I'd kick you off with some thoughts on Crocs.

Crocs bites back
Well, isn't my face red. Back in December, as part of a special CAPS feature, I said that Crocs could end up the worst stock of 2007. Since then, well, the stock is up 69%. Ouch.

I could spend a few lines here talking about how I am still not a fan of Crocs' stock (or the shoes, for that matter), because I still see it as a fad and wouldn't want it in my portfolio for any extended period of time. But I won't, because that would only be appropriate if I had called Crocs the worst stock for the next three to five years. As in any other pursuit, some of the best learning you can do is learning from mistakes.

My mistake here? Making a relatively short-term call against a stock and a company with a significant amount of momentum behind it. Crocs' revenue grew a massive 700% in 2005; on a larger base, it grew another 225% in 2006; and revenue for the first quarter of this year tripled versus the prior year. Meanwhile, margins have been holding steady, so Crocs is growing its bottom line right along with its top line.

Betting against momentum is always a tricky proposition, and Crocs is a perfect case study. When will it finally slow down? That's a tough call to make, and the problem is that when a stock is carried by momentum, at some point even good news is sometimes not quite good enough and investors end up heading for the exits. At the same time, as long as things are rosy, I am definitely not on board with shorting the stock -- though according to Yahoo! Finance, there are plenty of other people who are.

Basically, when it comes to a stock like Crocs, I need to keep Ren and Stimpy's advice in mind. That, of course, is "don't whiz on the electric fence." In other words, I prefer just to stay away.

That aside, there is no dearth of scathing commentaries on Crocs from CAPS players.

All-Star rorshey shares:

[Crocs has] put some serious money into factories and such. However, as some one has already alluded to, the product lasts a long time. ... I think [my Crocs] will last for ten years. That's a ten year product purchase cycle. Maybe in some cases, vets and docs who are daily users will replace yearly, but that's it. This will be a classic example of a company that grew [too] fast only to collapse. Watch it get sucked into a black hole once the demand softens and they have more manufacturing plants and distributing centers than they know what to do with ... At least they're smart in the sense that they haven't employed capital to develop several hundred Crocs retail outlets.

Meanwhile, IBDFool4U notes:

[Crocs are] still just a fad. There is plenty of history in footwear trends to bear this out. The stock will get hammered down eventually.

So do you think that Crocs still has enough momentum left to be worth a thumbs-up? Or does the potential for a slowdown put too much risk into the equation? Head over to CAPS and let the community know what you think. While you're there, you can start your research on any of the other stocks listed above -- or any of the 4,400-plus stocks on CAPS.

More CAPS Foolishness:

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer didn't see these particular moves coming, but he's rarely surprised at Mr. Market's general tomfoolery. You can check out Matt's CAPS portfolio here, or visit his blog. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy thinks Pete's coffee beats Starbucks hands down.