We at The Fool usually don't pay attention to day-to-day price gyrations. Instead, we prefer to track each business' intrinsic value, which, by its very nature, changes a lot less frequently than Mr. Market's wild swings would have you believe.       

But sometimes price moves are just so big that investors should at least take notice -- especially when we Fools could have seen them coming.  

The big winners   
With that in mind, I've summoned our Motley Fool CAPS community to highlight Monday's biggest gainers among the stocks with a top rating of five stars. Also, I've included a possible explanation -- where I could find one, of course -- for each move.

So, without further ado:


Yesterday's % gain

Probable catalyst



Shareholder possibly taking company private

Axsys Technologies



Aegean Marine Petroleum Network


Continued strength from analyst buy rating

Quest Software (NASDAQ:QSFT)


Better-than-expected Q2 forecast

First Marblehead (NYSE:FMD)


Expects to receive $177.1 million in advisory fees from securitization

Did CAPS predict the pop?
The reason I selected the biggest five-star gainers instead of the market's biggest overall winners or even the most actively traded stocks -- like Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) -- is pretty simple: Stocks go up all the time, but unless you were able predict the pop beforehand, what does it matter?    

Through a consensus of more than 65,000 Fools in CAPS, our community considers its five-star stocks the most likely to outperform the market. By reverse-engineering some of the arguments made for these picks, our odds of finding the next big winner will surely improve.  

For example, Conn's, a Texas retailer of appliances and consumer electronics, has always received tremendous support from our community. Of the 50 All-Stars who've rated the stock, just one of them has given it an underperform rating.     

To be sure, Conn's was formally pitched to Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt subscribers several months ago, but nevertheless, many of the same bullish arguments are peppered throughout Conn's CAPS page. Specifically, Fools have been -- and continue to be -- intrigued by Conn's seemingly bargain-basement price.

CAPS All-Star SH2F088 explains:

I believe the stock is down due to recent mildly poor year-over-year earnings comparisons. Back in 05, the price certainly got ahead of itself near $40 (probably on bullish growth estimates). Now it is half the price, in a classic overreaction. ... 5yr track record is all positive growth except for 07 which came down slightly from 06. 08 & 09 estimates have the stock back on track.

Conn's is up 17% since that pitch was written only a week ago. In fact, yesterday's 14% jump came after Conn's majority shareholder, Stephens Inc., considered taking it private -- citing strengthening fundamentals at the company the market doesn't fully appreciate yet. You know, just like Fools have said for months.  

The Foolish takeaway? Consciously seek to capitalize on Mr. Market's biggest weakness: short-sightedness. If a stock -- with solid long-term prospects -- gets hit hard due to shaky near-term turbulence, it often proves fruitful to investigate the situation.     

Now for the losers
Of course, winning isn't everything in the stock market. Stocks go down, too -- often very, very fast.

Here are yesterday's biggest one-star decliners:   


Yesterday's % loss

Probable catalyst



Analyst comment regarding its exposure to economic weakness

LaBranche & Co.


Continued bearishness toward floor trading shops

Silicon Graphics



Regeneron Pharmaceuticals



Lee Enterprises (NYSE:LEE)


Analyst downgrade

Did CAPS call the fall?
Fools believe five-star stocks will outperform, and one-star stocks inspire the least confidence from our CAPS community. By investigating a few of the bearish arguments made for these losers, we should have a better chance of averting portfolio disaster in the future.   

Take, for instance, this Lee Enterprises underperform pitch found in CAPS:

Growth in readership and circulation can drive advertisement revenues, but according to national Editor and Publisher data, both daily newspaper and Sunday circulation has been on a declining trend since their peak in 1985. ... A continued decline in newspaper circulation would negatively impact the advertising revenue and therefore it is best to avoid Lee.

The Iowa newspaper publisher is down 54% since CAPS All-Star NetscribeConsumerGoods wrote that in January.

In fact, the Fool has documented Lee's struggles closely over the last year, and, more importantly, the departure of advertisers from newspapers as a whole. To be fair, Lee still has several things going for it, including rising online revenues.

But it goes to show just how drastically (and rapidly) an industry can change -- for better or worse. Naturally, we Fools should try to stay away from the latter.

The final Foolish move
Investors often focus strictly on stock price movements (or the results), without realizing that developing a proper stock-picking process counts most.

Over at Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are Foolishly sharing insightful investment tips to help identify tomorrow's big movers. Over time, consistently reverse-engineering winning (and losing) stocks will help you become a more Foolish investor.

Log in to CAPS today. It's absolutely free -- and a lot of fun! 

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Conn's is a Hidden Gems Pay Dirt recommendation. First Marblehead and Intel are Inside Value selections. First Marblehead is also a Hidden Gems pick. The Fool's disclosure policy is always the big winner.