"The bigger they are, the harder they fall." This old saying sums up the worst nightmare of every homeowner, every gold buyer, and every investor in today's market. Dare ye buy at the top?

Every day, Nasdaq.com publishes a list of the market's top stocks -- the companies whose shares have just hit their highest intraday price of any time in the past 52 weeks. Every day, investors read this list and tremble -- some with greed (big mo', baby!), and others in pure acrophobic terror (whatever you do, don't look down).

Over on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors like you are watching these same companies and voting their gut on whether they'll keep rising or stumble and fall. Usually, the ratings wax optimistic as stocks hit new highs -- because everyone loves a winner. But what do you make of it when some of the smartest investors out there are panning a hot stock?

You could heed them. You could ignore them. You could take the stock tickers and construct anagrams from 'em. For my money, though, the best course of action is to use the 52-week-high list as just a starting point for further research. After all, stocks can go up for many reasons, and it's up to you to decide how worthy those reasons are. But thanks to Motley Fool CAPS, now you don't have to make the decision alone.

With that said, let's meet today's list of contenders, drawn from the latest list of stocks hitting new 52-week highs at Nasdaq.com. What does our panel of more than 76,000 (and counting) stock gurus have to say about them?

One Year Ago Today

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating

Blackbaud  (NASDAQ:BLKB)




Invitrogen  (NASDAQ:IVGN)




Standard Parking  (NASDAQ:STAN)




Possis Medical  (NASDAQ:POSS)




Auxilium Pharma  (NASDAQ:AUXL)




Corinthian Colleges (NASDAQ:COCO)




Five stars = highest possible CAPS rating; one star = lowest. Companies are selected from the NASDAQ 52 Week High list published on Nasdaq.com on the Saturday following close of trading last week. One year ago and current pricing provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Everybody loves a winner
It's feast or famine this week, Fools. Investors either love the stocks, or hate them with a passion. But while the adulation of winners is to be expected, it's the loathing of similarly stellar performers that interests us today. With three one-star, high-hitting stocks to choose from, I pick to profile the one I (think I) know best: Corinthian Colleges.

The bear case against Corinthian Colleges:

  • kschneyer issues a qualitative diss of Corinthian: "Neither as classy nor as well-managed as its chief rival, the [Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL)]."
  • EthylMercaptan goes numerical, arguing that: "Even with their good top line growth over the last few years, it hasn't transferred to the bottom line and seems to be absorbed by runaway SG&A."
  • One of the more laconic pitches comes from CAPS All-Star adamdazzle, who makes up for a lack of detail with points for style: "Valuation is NG. Not COCO for this one." (Think about it a moment. You'll get it.)

But the pitch I really want to talk about here is my own, because, as it turns out, I'm the lone "green thumb" pitcher on Corinthian -- and not meaning to brag, but also the only pitcher currently beating the S&P 500 with my prediction. But it's a bit dated, and due for a review.

Back in September 2006, I argued: "Corinthian Colleges sports an unusually low EV/FCF of 0.8 as of today, in part due to its involvement in the stock options backdating scandal. I consider the financial risk inherent in this scandal to be minimal, and believe the company is attractively priced as of this writing."

Looking at the company today, 14 months after I rated Corinthian an outperformer, however, what I see is a company priced at a staggering 194 times trailing earnings, and burning cash to boot. (Hmm. Note to self: Check back on picks more frequently.)

This is no longer the stock I recommended, Fools. As of today, it's anything but "attractively priced." And just as soon as I get around to it, I intend to end my outperform rating on Corinthian. Double dare me? You're on. Click right here and watch it happen.

Time to chime in
Of course, the aim of this column isn't just to tell you what I think about Corinthian Colleges -- or even what other CAPS players are saying. We also want to hear your thoughts. Don't be shy. If you think I'm making the wrong move in jumping ship on Corinthian, give us your "pitch" on CAPS and tell us why.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 1,180 out of more than 40,000 rated players. Possis Medical is a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.