Successful investing requires you to think independently and stick to your convictions. That's hard enough with stocks that are generally popular -- after all, in the stock market, there's a seller for every buyer. But it gets even tougher with stocks that can't seem to find good press or bullish investors anywhere. Of course, defying popular opinion has led many contrarian investors to great returns.

In that spirit, I've headed to Motley Fool CAPS to dig up some unloved stocks that have delivered big gains to shareholders over the past month. Our community of investors has put each of these companies on the bottom two rungs of the CAPS rating scale:

Stock

30-day return

One-year return

CAPS Rating

(5 max)

Pulte Homes (NYSE: PHM)

57.3%

(58%)

*

Beazer Homes

53.6%

(79.2%)

*

Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM)

28.5%

(60%)

**

JetBlue Airways (Nasdaq: JBLU)

27.1%

(52%)

**

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO)

23.3%

(2.7%)

**

Centex (NYSE: CTX)

12.6%

(56.2%)

*

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD)

10.9%

(56%)

**

Data provided by Motley Fool CAPS as of Feb. 6.

Now, given CAPS' knack for accurately gauging winners and losers, I'm not recommending that you run out and buy these stocks! An index set up to short CAPS' least-liked stocks has outperformed more than 97% of all other CAPS players. That said, CAPS players have proved overly negative on high-performing stocks such as Crocs and DryShips. Are any of the stocks in the table above the same sort of undercover rockets?

Do research? You're kidding!
That's right -- the best way to figure out whether any of these stocks is worth considering for your portfolio (real or CAPS) is to roll up those sleeves and dig in a bit. We're looking for stocks that have good fundamentals despite their lack of popularity --a profitable business, good management, and some decent growth prospects.

It'd be tough to overlook Yahoo! on today's list, since it's had a heck of a time lately. Disappointing earnings struck first, dropping its lagging shares even further. Then the big Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) offer sent shares soaring almost 50%. It's unclear at this point whether the deal will go through, but since I wasn't all that crazy about Yahoo! shares at their previous lows, I'm far less interested in them at a 50% markup.

CAPS players have voiced a range of reactions to the proposed deal and what it means for Yahoo!'s stock. Player jt225t thinks that "more bids are coming for the company," and that investors can expect those new offers to push the price up even further. Meanwhile, a number of players think that approval of Microsoft's bid will take a while; in the interim, Yahoo!'s share price will recede, creating an opportunity for investors to get back in before the acquisition goes through.

Lastly, some investors think the deal is a bad idea from start to finish. CAPS All-Star gunark recently noted:

If the Microsoft deal goes through, it will prove a debacle for both companies (more for [Microsoft] than for [Yahoo!], but still). And if the deal falls apart, we're looking at some sort of drop as all the stupid excitement over the deal dwindles.

So what's your take? Is there good reason to be bullish on Yahoo! right now? Head over to CAPS, and let the community of over 83,000 Fools know what you think. While you're there, you can start your research on any of the other stocks listed above, or any of the 5,300-plus stocks on CAPS.

More CAPS Foolishness:

Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation and Washington Mutual is a pick from Income Investor. Yahoo! is a former recommendation of Stock Advisor. You can test drive any of our market-beating investing newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer didn't see these particular moves coming, but he's rarely surprised at Mr. Market's general tomfoolery. You can check out Matt's CAPS portfolio here, or visit his blog. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy is never going to give you up, it's never going to let you down, and it's definitely never going to run around and desert you.