At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we did.

But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We'll also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we'll be tracking the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best ...
In a scene reminiscent of the classic soda-sipping polar bear commercials, Bear Stearns took a good look at Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) this morning ... and smiled. Referring to PepsiCo's (NYSE: PEP) recent strong earnings report, Bear argued that Coke lacks its rival's exposure to high commodity costs in "snacks." Considering that Pepsi did just fine this week despite those costs, Bear predicts a "solid" performance at worst from Big Red next week. Bear now rates Coke an "outperform."

Let's go to the tape
Over on CAPS, we find Bear clawing its way back to the top. One month ago today, I observed that a run of bad luck had Bear's reputation in hibernation, with more than half of its picks underperforming the market. One month later, Bear's right back up at 54% accuracy, boasting a 93.62 CAPS rating.

Although by its own admission, Bear hasn't been particularly up on the beverages sector lately and started up its coverage again only three months ago, it does have plenty of experience rating so-called "fast-moving consumer goods." Let's look at how a few of its picks have performed:

Company

Bear Stearns Said:

CAPS Says (5 Max):

Bear Stearns's Pick Beating S&P by:

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG)

Outperform

*****

12 points

Avon  Products  (NYSE: AVP)

Outperform

***

12 points

Hershey (NYSE: HSY)

Underperform

**

6 points

Not half bad. Turns out, Bear does pretty well rooting around the FMCG sector. Better by a darned sight than its record in tech, at any rate:

Company

Bear Stearns Said:

CAPS Says:

Bear Stearns's Pick Lagging S&P by:

Research in Motion

(Nasdaq: RIMM)

Outperform

**

19 points

VMware

Outperform

***

15 points

Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO)

Outperform

****

14 points

So basically, what we're looking at here is a fine analyst, with a fine record in FMCG, saying Coke is a great stock. Very well.

I disagree -- but only on valuation grounds. I just don't see the point in paying 25 times trailing earnings for a company that's expected to grow at just 10% per year over the next half-decade. And the fact that, at last report, Coke was generating less free cash flow than it reported as net earnings doesn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies, either.

Foolish takeaway
That said, with the world apparently on the brink of recession, I see the comfort in wanting to own a world-class, name-brand FMCG company like Coke. However much the stock costs, you can be sure that Coke isn't going away any time soon. It will survive the recession just fine and, once the storms have passed, maybe even exceed that 10% growth rate everyone's predicting. So I guess what I'm saying is this: Don't listen to my grouching about price. I'm a Scrooge. If it makes you feel better, go ahead --  have a Coke and a smile.

Fool contributor Rich Smith doesn't own shares of any company mentioned. Coke is an Inside Value pick. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's ranked No. 498 out of more than 83,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.