When large caps make a run for it, Fools pay attention.

Think of Microsoft. After years of poor performance, Mr. Softy and his $300-billion-plus market cap began making a move over the summer, enriching investors who bought and stayed in.

Hence this column. For as much money as there is to be made in fast-movers like Phoenix Technologies (NASDAQ:PTEC) and Rule Breakers recommendation Millennium Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MLNM), both of which hit new 52-week highs yesterday, the turtle often beats the hare. Here's a look at Wednesday's finest terrapins, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:


Closing Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX)





Avon Products (NYSE:AVP)





Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM)





Constellation Energy (NYSE:CEG)





Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB)





Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool CAPS.

Shares of our top gainer, copper and gold miner Freeport-McMoRan, appear to have benefited from an upgrade by analysts at Canaccord Adams. Interesting, but we Fools prefer buy-to-hold stock stories. Are any of our large-cap leaders worth owning over the next three to five years?

Well, the answer for all of them is yes -- if you believe the 74,000-plus professional and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community. But a top star rating isn't always a bullish indicator. If it were, thenApple, which has spent much of its life in CAPS as a two-star stock, would have long ago had a five-star rating.

You're up, Mr. Williams
So let's eschew the five-star stocks here. They're too obvious. Not so with four-star-rated Williams Companies. Left for dead in 2004, Williams, one of the largest natural-gas producers in the Rocky Mountain region, has realized dramatic improvements in its operating efficiency:


Trailing 12 Months




Return on capital





Gross margin





Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

A friendlier operating environment probably helps. CAPS investor Spenculate explains:

Natural gas prices are rising just as demand is increasing (winter season will soon be upon us); if [Williams] was able to post a better than expected [third] quarter as prices were down, just imagine what the [fourth] quarter results could be ...

I'll add that Williams recently boosted capacity in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metro areas, which suggests it will be able to take full advantage of higher-priced demand during the winter months. I'd consider opening a position on any meaningful pullback in the shares.

What about you? What would you do? Let us know by signing up for CAPS today. It's 100% free to participate.

See you back here tomorrow for more of the best of the biggest.

Cap off your day with related CAPS Foolishness:

For further large-cap largesse, get your copy of The New Rule Makers, a Foolish special report, today. It's chock-full of low-risk money-making stock ideas, and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 12,474 out of more than 74,000 participants in CAPS, didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Find Tim's portfolio here and his latest blog commentary here. Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. Constellation Energy is an Income Investor selection. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy doesn't need to be large in order to be in charge, but it is.