It pays to be skeptical when you invest. In addition to doubting what the analysts tell you, you often have to discount what the companies tell you, too. On Wall Street, going against the grain can reap huge rewards. Like baseball's greatest place hitter, "Wee Willie" Keeler, great contrarian investors such as Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, and John Neff "hit 'em where they ain't."

Today's new breed of contrarian investor can be found at Motley Fool CAPS, where these savvy Fools are willing to see both the upside and the downside of stocks. While their often negative opinions peg them as "skeptics," their top CAPS ratings mean they're right far more often than not. And when they find a stock they actually believe will outperform, perhaps we should take notice.

Here are some recent picks from our list of Foolish CAPS skeptics:

Company

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Skeptic

Player Rating

Mosaic (NYSE: MOS)

****

chk999

99.99

Tesoro (NYSE: TSO)

****

madnessmmrs

99.98

Tellabs (Nasdaq: TLAB)

***

betmck

99.80

Paccar (Nasdaq: PCAR)

*****

bigbenjewell

97.47

Alcoa (NYSE: AA)

****

abitarecatania

96.97

Just as a list of their worst stocks would not be a list of stocks to short, this list of the skeptics' favorites isn't a list of automatic buys. But they do offer an excellent starting place for your own future research.

Skeptically skeptical
Used as a fertilizer to boost the production of crops, potash is growing in popularity as food crises grow more severe around the world. Corn, wheat, soybeans, and other essential crops benefit from potash's chemical reaction with plants, making them stronger and healthier. As a result, farmers are able to get higher crop yields per acre.

That has meant a bountiful harvest for investors in fertilizer companies like Mosaic and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT), which are profiting from the rising price of potash. That's what attracted investors to Mosaic back in February. SnoringBulldog gives the top pitch for bulls:

Phosphate fertilizers are in high demand. Look for explosive (pardon the pun) EPS growth with Mosaic. Company reports 4/9/08. Current ROE not as high as I like but the demand for this product continues to rise as the landscape is being covered with corn.

Price increases here have not slowed the demand. However, some Ethanol Plant projects have been pulled back due to prices of corn.

Look for oil companies to start blending ethanol with gasoline (perhaps 10%).

Mosaic is also benefiting from the fact that it's no easy (or cheap) task for a competitor to come in and open up new mines to dig for phosphate rock. Phosphates make up twice as much of Mosaic's sales as its potash division. While Mosaic does have rivals, like Agrium (NYSE: AGU), in the field, the relative lack of competition means that for the foreseeable future, we might expect Mosaic to continue its earnings moon shot.

Other CAPS players, like deccles02, find the company to be a safe investment amid a worldwide commodities crunch:

A producer of phosphate, potash, and nitrogen fertilizers, as well as animal feed. They are perfectly positioned to command nice profits in the ag commodity crunch, and it's a broadly traded, $56 billion company. It's hard to find a safer play than that.

Seeing past the obvious
Skeptics know that just beyond the storm clouds lies a shimmering morning. Conversely, the sun can't shine forever, whatever the crowds may think. What's your forecast? Drop by CAPS and tell us which stocks are your favorite contrarian picks.

Paccar is a recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Don't be skeptical about the 30-day free trial offer available for any of the Fool's investment newsletters. It's yours for the asking!

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.