"The bigger they are, the harder they fall." It's the worst nightmare of every investor in today's market -- buying a hot stock just before it takes a nosedive.

Every day, Nasdaq.com publishes a list of stocks whose shares have just hit new 52-week highs. And every day, investors read the list and tremble -- some with greed, others with terror. On our Motley Fool CAPS investing community, these top stocks usually enjoy favorable ratings, since everyone loves a winner. But what should you do when some of CAPS' smartest investors pan one of these hot stocks?

For starters, consider using the 52-week high list as a starting point for further research. Stocks can rise for many reasons, but a little help from CAPS can make it easier to figure out how worthy those reasons are. Let's see what the more than 81,000 stock gurus in CAPS have to say about the list's latest contenders:

One Year Ago Today

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating

Compania de Minas Buenaventura 

(NYSE: BVN)

$25.78

$68.04

*****

Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC)

$12.01

$23.03

*****

Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX)

$29.25

$51.20

****

Yamana Gold  (NYSE: AUY)

$12.64

$16.40

*****

Randgold  (Nasdaq: GOLD)

$21.82

$43.70

***

Five stars = highest 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 as of Jan. 13. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

All that glitters ...
There's no denying it: Last week was a veritable dog's breakfast on Wall Street. Or perhaps a bear's breakfast. What few stocks weren't stumbling into 52-week lows were at best staggering back out of them -- with a few glittering exceptions, listed above. Last week, pretty much all that glittered was gold. More precisely, gold mining stocks.

Bears in hibernation
At the sight of Mr. Market, covered in sackcloth and ashes and raving like a loon, investors fled in a panic to the safety of the shiny metal. Gold prices climbed to unheard of heights, carrying gold miners right along with them. So it comes as no surprise that not a single gold stock on today's list gets below-average ratings from CAPS investors.

There's not enough negative sentiment out there for me to tag any of these companies as "ready to fall." That said, a few brave souls venture underperform ratings on these stocks. Let's survey a few of their more bearish comments.

On Buenaventura: chrismichael1 warns that: "The dividend is extremely unreliable for this company, and without that, there's not much reason to own the stock. This stock's price is pinned to the price of gold, and gold prices are too volatile for a long term investment, especially at these valuations."

On Barrick: Rodnitzky cites unspecified "Labor issues and supply chain management concerns" in rating Barrick an underperformer.

On Yamana: Claudio1d commented back in June that Yamana didn't have a P/E ratio.

With Yamana, at least, things have changed quite a bit in recent months. Right now, Yamana differs from peers such as AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) or Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM), in that it's profitable under GAAP and so does have a P/E. Now, granted, Newmont only lost money because of an acquisition-related write-off. But Yamana's organic growth story has been turning heads and making former naysayers take a second look.

Time to chime in
You've heard the gold bears growl. Now tell us what you think about these companies? Has gold peaked, and will the gold miners' stocks now fall? Or will we indeed see the $1,000/ounce price at which Claudio1d scoffs? Come on over to CAPS and tell us what you think.

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. 2,567 out of more than 81,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.