Some stocks simply have such great potential that "everyone" knows they are a good buy today. Yeah, we wish.

If we knew beforehand that Adobe Systems would return nearly 800% over the past decade, not only would we have mortgaged the house on it, but we'd also have mortgaged your house!

In fact, if investing were so easy, we'd all be millionaires. It's easy to see after the fact which companies have been the winning investments. What we need is a way to know beforehand which companies will grow tens of thousands of percent in value over the years. But there hasn't been a way.

Until now, that is.

More than 77,000 professional and novice investors have rated stocks on Motley Fool CAPS, and we can check in on their opinions about which stocks will beat the market and which will lose to it. While it's often a tug-of-war between the bulls and the bears, we've identified dozens of stocks that members of CAPS have unanimously chosen to outperform the market.

That's no small feat. Thousands of companies have been rated, and convincing arguments can be, and are, made on both sides. For example, Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Costco (NASDAQ:COST) is a well-respected, top-rated stock that more than 1,400 CAPS investors have rated. Yet while the vast majority of them think the stock will beat the market, there are still 84 CAPS investors who don't.

So when you come across a stock that everyone thinks is going to outperform, you've got something special, and we as investors ought to take notice.

Here are a handful of those "obvious" investments.

Company

Bulls

All-Star Bulls

Price

Return on Capital, Trailing 12 Months

Horsehead Holding (NASDAQ:ZINC)

108

34

$17.79

59.8%*

Allied World Assurance (NYSE:AWH)

84

37

$47.08

11.3%

Alliance Holdings (NASDAQ:AHGP)

79

29

$21.43

26.3%

Bio-Imaging Technology (NASDAQ:BITI)

26

5

$9.46

9.0%

MGE Energy (NASDAQ:MGEE)

16

4

$34.51

7.6%

Sources: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo!, and Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Price reflects previous day's close.
*As of 12/31/06.

As always, none of the companies on this list should be considered formal recommendations, but rather starting points for further research. We've simply narrowed your workload by focusing on the companies that CAPS investors universally expect to beat the market.

Drilling deep for value
While zinc miner Horsehead Holdings is considered a stock to beat, its stock has been under pressure lately, because the commodity's price has been declining. Yet China remains a key component to any future valuation of zinc and other metals, given the seemingly insatiable demand the country generates as its economy expands. Global demand for zinc has been growing at about 5% annually, while demand in China has risen at approximately 9% a year.

Zinc still trades at more than double its 2005 prices, and many CAPS players believe the metal will appear in greater products in the future. As KipLargo writes: Zinc "is still an essential ingredient in tons of stuff, and perhaps even more stuff down the road. This company should do very well, especially here at a little over $16."

Another CAPS investor, mrlloydum, thinks the recently announced contract settlement with Horsehead's unionized workforce resolves some uncertainty and should let the company start focusing on its wide array of product lines. This CAPS investor thus offers an exuberant price forecast:

I'm in at $19.77 a share based on [earnings per share] in 2008 of [$]3.17, 2009 of [$]3.39, 2010 of [$]4.01. Plus the news: Zinc announced today that the United Steelworkers local 8183 voted to accept a new labor contract. The new four-year agreement was ratified by the members of local 8183 earlier today. The existing agreement was set to expire at midnight tomorrow. [Editor's note: This pitch was written on Dec. 12.]

This company is diversified in [the] materials it sells, [including] zinc to coat or galvanize steel; [it] receives and recycles [electric arc furnace] dust generated by steel mini-mill operators. Zinc and copper-based powders primarily [are sold] for general chemical and metallurgical applications.

Its products are used in various applications, including in the galvanizing of fabricated steel products and as components in rubber tires, alkaline batteries, paint, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Should trade around $45.00 a share in near future.

Let's hear from you
How about your take on these or other "obvious" winning investments? Is this the chance to dig in for profits from the next "buy now" stock?  If you want to add your two cents, sign up to join the Motley Fool CAPS community, which is 100% free.

Costco is a recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Everyone thinks the 30 days of free stock picks available with the trial subscription is something you ought to try now.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.