It's a backyard investing barbecue! Have a Bud, watch the game, relax.

There are many good reasons for researching investment opportunities in a certain geographic area. Today, we're looking at St Louis, Missouri, where beer does flow (but I don't know about men chundering). We've been to Missouri before, but Kansas City is practically worlds away at the other end of the state, and things could look very different in the East.

If you happen to live in the Gateway City, 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 in the shadow of that famous Gateway Arch (or at least within a hundred miles of it):


Market Cap (billions)

CAPS Rating

Bull Ratio

Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR)




Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD)




Monsanto (NYSE:MON)




Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX)




MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE:WFR)




Data taken from Motley Fool CAPS on 7/26/2007.

Run with the big dogs
There are plenty of household names in this town, starting with Emerson and good old Bud, and on down the line you'll see Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA) -- home of the best Greek salads I know -- and the Energizer (NYSE:ENR) Bunny. The average CAPS grade of these 38 tickers is a stoutly average 3.0, but the distribution is rather unusual.

See, I've gotten used to our users bashing the biggest names to one-star and two-star pulp while rewarding the smaller upstarts. According to my findings, it's like that almost everywhere you go. But the Mound City is different. Just look at the ratings for the top five market caps above, including a fiver for the top dog. Twelve St. Louis-based stocks have earned four or five stars in CAPS, and 11 of them rank in the top 15 market caps. That leaves just one high scorer in the bottom 23 companies by cap size.

What's the dealio with this big-business excellence? Well, St. Louis has been named one of the "most logistics-friendly" cities in America, thanks to its central location and well-planned infrastructure. It's also a cheap place to do business, thanks to a comfortable tax structure and generally low costs for entrepreneurs and consumers alike. I don't think these attributes would attract big business as much as help the big boys compete well.

A Fool winds down
So this turned into a bird's-eye view of this Midwestern metropolis. But the nitty-gritty lowdown on the companies I talked about is just a click or two away in our CAPS community, where you might find some locals spreading their wealth of focused information. And keep an eye out for a St. Louis tag in the database for even more research fun.

All in all, this is sort of the opposite of Austin, an upside-down worldview where big caps look great and the smaller operations might be struggling. There's plenty of good material to work with here, so dig in and have a closer look.

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

Further Foolishness:

Anheuser-Busch is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, but he really means that part about the Greek salads. 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.