Momentum investors love to back companies with the wind in their sails. Contrarian investors typically pick up the cigar butts the market has tossed aside. So what do you call investors who turn against winners? Sourpusses? Shorts?

Over on Motley Fool CAPS, we sometimes call them the savviest investors around. When one of our All-Star players -- those whose stock-picking prowess places them in at least the 80th percentile of our community -- sours on a top-rated stock, perhaps we should take notice. Maybe the player has found a chink in that highflier's armor, or a question mark in its financial footnotes. Or it could be just a hunch. That's why these tables aren't lists of stocks to buy or sell -- just starting points for further research.

Here's a rundown of stocks that some All-Stars have recently spurned.


1-Year Return

CAPS All-Star

Player Rating*

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX)








Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B)




Corning (NYSE: GLW)




NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX)




*As of 1/18/08.

Considering that, on average, 97% of all CAPS' investors think these companies will outperform the market, what might have turned some of our top players against these otherwise widely admired companies?

Change is in the air
We have at least one thing to be thankful for in the fallout of the writer's strike that has hit Hollywood: The TV show Cavemen, which grew out of the GEICO insurance commercials, has been put on hiatus. What makes for a humorous 30-second commercial doesn't necessarily make for a neat transition to a 30-minute sitcom.

Berkshire Hathaway, which owns GEICO, will have to ponder a transition of its own soon, and it may not sit well with investors. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger will one day pass the torch to someone else, whether voluntarily or not. A large premium is built into Berkshire Hathaway's shares, and it comes from Buffett and Munger's ability to choose investments wisely into the future. The successor may not have the same goodwill that follows the current tag-team duo.

Yet until that time, Buffett and Munger's nose for shrewd financial moves continues unabated. In days of $100 oil, moving cargo by rail becomes a viable, desirable alternative. That's why Buffett has been buying shares of Burlington Northern (NYSE: BNI) hand over fist. He now owns more than 17% of the railroad. Furthermore, the credit-market collapse has given Berkshire Hathaway an opening to provide bond insurance to municipalities, at just the precise moment that competitors are strapped for cash to do so. That ability to make moves when others can't or won't sets Buffett apart, but it also worries CAPS investor ChesapeakeSailor, who sees Berkshire as a rudderless ship when Buffett and Munger depart:

Messers Buffet and Munger are getting old and will have to retire some day. Price to Book ratio suggests right now there's a premium priced in to BRK-A for their talents and insight. ... Two events WILL occur someday. The mortgage mess will pass, making the safe havens less attractive. And, God bless them, Mr. Buffet and Mr. Munger will retire or pass away, leaving the corporation to fend for itself without their services. I'm sure they are looking for appropriate ways to deploy the cash ... but it looks a little rich right now.

Without question, the 1,500-plus investors who've rated Berkshire Hathaway on CAPS believe it will continue to outperform the market. The passing of Buffett and Munger will happen, but that day may still be far off. Until then, they seem to have lost none of their edge in making the deals necessary for the conglomerate to succeed in the near term.

Make lemonade from lemons
Motley Fool CAPS is more than what the pros think. It's even more than what the All-Stars think. It's a place where we invite you to add your own voice to the debate. Go ahead -- have your say. We're eagerly waiting!

Berkshire Hathaway is a recommendations of both Motley Fool Inside Value and Stock Advisor. NYSE Euronext is a Rule Breakers selection. You'll end up loathing yourself if you don't take advantage of the 30-day free trial offer available for any of the Fool's investment services. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway.

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.