Piggybacking on the picks of great investors and money managers can often lead to big rewards -- especially when the stocks in question have been pummelled. If Buffett's finding opportunity in bonds, perhaps you should look there, too. Does Bill Miller think financial stocks are beaten down? Maybe investigating more closely will help improve your own results.

Over on Motley Fool CAPS, our top-rated All-Star players represent the best 20% of our 110,000 professional and novice investors. I'm looking among them for those who've chosen one- and two-star stocks to outperform the market. The majority of CAPS investors may consider these stocks losers, but if our ace contrarians think otherwise, these picks might be worth a look.

Here are a few stocks that have gotten the nod from the cream of our CAPS investors:


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Est. Long Term EPS Growth

CAPS All-Star


Regions Financial (NYSE:RF)





Aventine Renewable Energy (NYSE:AVR)










Bok Financial (NASDAQ:BOKF)










Sources: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance.

A regional malaise
At some point, the financial industry has to hit bottom, though many investors remain concerned that some banks aren't there yet. Regions Financial is one company that generates more than its share of investor concern. It missed the time bomb in the first quarter, but second-quarter earnings plunged 52% last week, and it slashed its dividend from $0.38 a share down to $0.10 as a means of preserving capital. It and Wachovia (NYSE:WB) are the only two banks so far to cut their dividends as they've reported Q2 earnings, though others in the financial sector did so earlier in the year.

Despite the weakness it has shown, Regions also is attracting some positive investor attention. CAPS member donktastic, for one, finds a few items to suggest that things aren't as bad as they might seem:

A few weeks ago when Lehman Bros. and others started to really tank, I thought the worst was yet to come. Looks like I was wrong. [Return on equity] is slightly higher than the [price-to-earnings] Ratio at 6.2% ROE vs. 5.78% P/E Ratio. That's a really good thing!

A drenching of trouble
In the wake of the floods that drenched the Midwest, corn prices soared even higher than before. With the floodwaters now receding, corn is surprisingly cheaper now than it was before the flood. Some analysts are expecting that the already stretched ethanol producers, such as Aventine Renewable Energy and VeraSun Energy (NYSE:VSE), will be forced to pass along cost savings because of an oversupply in ethanol. That's going to pressure margins further at a time when ethanol doesn't have the same sheen as some other alternative-energy plays do.

CAPS member dannp still finds ethanol a viable alternative to fossil fuels and thinks that it will eventually become attractive again: "I look for companies dealing with ethanol and soy diesel products to become very valuable as our country and [its] people try to get away from our [dependence] on foreign oil.

More like a bio-mess
Organic-foods producer SunOpta has been a mess following an investigation into its fruit unit, and it has only just gotten around to restating its results from last year. The good news is that its food-group unit, which accounts for the vast majority of its revenue, saw a 37% increase in revenue last year and a 65% increase in operating earnings for the first quarter of 2008.

A number of investors think that SunOpta's tiny biomass-treatment segment has the potential to make the company more money in the alternative-energy markets. Sales have been in continuous freefall -- they declined by 45% last year and an additional 82% in the first quarter. CAPS member wheatchaff believed earlier this year that there were just too many headwinds for this company to succeed:

The cash cow that remains standing for this company, after the fruit disaster is the private label soy milk. Now with the FDA looking at removing the "heart healthy" claim for soy, this segment looks due for a fall. Also, given the price run up in Organic and Conventional food soy beans recently, I wonder how well covered forward they are to fill the contracts in place for private label soy milk, could this be the larger shoe still to drop on SunOpta??

Finding value under rocks
So there you have it -- five low-rated laggards that have won big endorsements from some of the best and brightest investors in the CAPS community, although there are always some who are not so sure. If you want to add your two cents on these or any other firms, sign up to join Motley Fool CAPS, absolutely free.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.