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 were doing.

But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We 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 ...
Wall Street megabank Citigroup upgraded shares of Coach (NYSE: COH) to "buy" yesterday, helping to send the shares up 5.7%. Of course, this was just a day after the shares tumbled on an earnings release that fellow Fool Alyce Lomax termed a "bag of tricks."

Tricky or not, Citi expects to see sales "stabilize" in the first half of next year and predicts that the company will hit the Street's estimates for fiscal year 2009 earnings. Furthermore, the analyst expects Coach to "be a major beneficiary of the [$600] rebate checks" that the government will be sending out to compensate homeowners for the tens of thousands of dollars they've lost in home equity these past couple of years.

Hmm ...
Yeah, much mockery has been made of this "$600/$60,000" divide. But let's give Citi the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps Congress' stimulus package will fill up Coach. Let's see how well similar picks are working out for Citi:

Company

Citi Said:

CAPS Says

(5 max):

Citi's Pick Beating S&P by:

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT)

Outperform

***

14 points

Target (NYSE: TGT)

Underperform

***

1 point

Ann Taylor  (NYSE: ANN)

Outperform

*

3 points

So Citi's been scoring a few points in the retail space -- at least, in the lower-to-mid echelons thereof. Problem is, the closer you get to Coach's target demographic (size of bank account-wise), the worse Citi has been doing lately:

Company

Citi Said:

CAPS Says

(5 max):

Citi's Pick Beating S&P by:

Tempur-Pedic (NYSE: TPX)

Outperform

*

58 points

Saks (NYSE: SKS)

Outperform

**

35 points

Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN)

Outperform

**

14 points

So, to sum up, Citi has a decent grasp of retail, albeit it seems to have been caught with its designer britches down by the severity of the consumer withdrawal in upper-income quarters. The banker ranks near the top 10% of investors on CAPS and, based on its 52% record for accuracy, is slightly more right than wrong.

For the record, I believe Citi is once again more likely right than wrong with its Coach pick. The stock trades for a reasonable 17 times earnings, yet most analysts agree it will grow at about an 18% clip over the next five years. To me, this suggests a slightly undervalued stock. That said, it's not yet cheap enough to attract my $600.

Looking for a second opinion? Or in this case, a fourth or fifth? Check out Coach's CAPS page and see what the current score leader on the stock has to say about it.

Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation, and Coach is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

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. 2,885 out of more than 98,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.