Break out the beer and beans -- it's a backyard investing barbecue!

There are many good reasons for researching investment opportunities in a certain geographic area. Today, we're not getting lost in Yonkers (maybe some other week!), but taking a trip out to Long Island.

If you happen to live in Five Towns or Queens, you already have a few advantages when it comes to evaluating the local market, such as access to local news sources and the word on the street, and a high probability of being a customer or employee of these companies. And if you're not a local resident, you might still want to know whether the weather matches the business climate -- a hot area could be chock-full of undiscovered treasures on their way to greatness.

Without further ado, here are the largest companies headquartered between Jamaica Bay and East Hampton:

Company

Market Cap (billions)

CAPS Rating

Bull Ratio

CA (NYSE:CA)

$13.80

*

32%

Cablevision Systems (NYSE:CVC)

$8.67

*

57%

Kimco Realty (NYSE:KIM)

$9.90

*

75%

Pall (NYSE:PLL)

$5.90

****

97%

Data taken from Motley Fool CAPS on 7/13/2007.

Once again, it looks cold at the top. Cablevision, for one, provides TV and Internet services to all 4 million Long Islanders that don't like satellite dishes, as well as a sizable chunk of the Northeast in general. But private buyout rumors and whatnot have driven the stock price up over the last few months, and what used to be a three-star CAPS stock now has a single star and a trailing P/E ratio of 92. I can think of search engine operators with lower relative valuations.

There is but one Foolish newsletter pick on the island, and only if you include Brooklyn. That's Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU) on Queens Boulevard, where it is nursing a lowly two-star CAPS rating.

Our intrepid investors do like the positive effect of lower, or at least stable oil prices on JetBlue's business, and there is little doubt about the value its passengers are getting. But the airline sector as a whole isn't getting much love, and some users complain that JetBlue pulled an Icarus by flying too high, and too fast.

Brand manager Iconix (NASDAQ:ICON) is faring better, on the rise with four stars today. It's hard to get your Joe Boxers in a bunch over a business model dealing mostly in intellectual property rights, and a 74% trailing operating margin looks mighty stylish.

Foolish lowdown
The businesses span all sectors and industries, with perhaps a slight tilt toward commercial real estate and micro-cap electronics businesses. It's a bit hard to feel the pulse of the island, because most companies here are too small to rate in our CAPS system. There seems to be something in the water that makes local entrepreneurs go for their own startups, though some of these small-caps do have impressive history. Take Nathan's Famous (NASDAQ:NATH), for example, which has been cranking out Coney Island hot dogs since 1916.

The Long Island Expressway is the artery that keeps business flowing up and down the island. Most of the 78 businesses I found here have their headquarters clustered within a couple of blocks of 495, with a handful of outliers further out in Lindenhurst and Port Washington. Transportation is important to keep your staff happy and on time, making that premium real estate worth the while, even in one of the most expensive land markets in the nation.

Altogether, the average CAPS grade for Long Island companies comes out to a chilly 2.8 out of five, though nearly half of the tickers in town don't have any rating at all. Maybe all the good businesses outgrew their roots and left town long ago, or maybe it's a small-business mentality that keeps the numbers down a bit. Either way, I'd give Long Island -- the Investor's Hunting Ground a "Go to Jersey!" and a double "Oh well." Not that great, in other words.

Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to weigh in on the Lohahn Guylan market -- or on any stocks at all, really -- by joining Motley Fool CAPS and blasting away with your ratings and commentary pitches. And if Manhasset isn't your 'hood, maybe we'll come around where you live the next time.

Further Foolishness:

JetBlue is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. 30-day trials! Get them while they're hot!

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, but his sprinkler repair guy is from Long Island. Small world. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, or follow him around the world on these Foolish local-business treks. Foolish disclosure is always red-hot.