Individual stocks can rise 10%, 25%, or even higher in a short period of time. And they can fall just as far, just as quickly. For example, semiconductor designer ANADIGICS' (NASDAQ:ANAD) shares fell 38% in a single day recently when it lowered third-quarter guidance for the second time in less than three weeks.

Big drops in share price can sometimes signal material defects or new risks. But at other times, they're simply pullbacks after a long run-up. Fortunately, we have Motley Fool CAPS, a great resource to help us understand the larger picture behind big price drops.

Is the sky falling?
CAPS is more than just the crowd's opinions. Its best-performing members' votes count more in shaping each company's rating than do the picks of poorer-performing peers. That way, investors can intelligently use the collective wisdom of more than 115,000 CAPS members to make better decisions.

We'll use CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly zero in on companies whose stock prices have been cut at least 25% in the past four weeks, whose market caps are greater than $100 million, and whose beta is less than 3.

Here's a sample of stocks our CAPS screen returned:


CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Price Change

Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS)



Golden Star Resources (AMEX:GSS)



Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW)



Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY)



Coeur d'Alene Mines (NYSE:CDE)



Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price change from July 18 through Aug. 15.

Pan American Silver
With costs for energy and raw materials soaring, many miners like Pan American, Agnico-Eagle Mines, and Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) have struggled with higher operating costs lately. And though Pan American reported that all seven mines are producing well, a delay in the opening of a mine in Argentina, coupled with the increased cost guidance, has pressured shares. Still, more than 95% of the 733 CAPS members rating Pan American remain bullish and have voted for the stock to outperform the broader market.

Golden Star Resources
While things seem to be running relatively smoothly for Pan American, operational difficulties and high costs continue to plague Golden Star's Ghana and other West African mines. Despite improvements in recovery rates, the company reported a $6.9 million loss for the second quarter. But while shares remain under attack on one side, some investors believe actions taken to replace management will help improve operations. A solid contingent of CAPS members -- more than 94% of those rating the company -- has voted for Golden Star to beat the market.

Silver Wheaton
Canada-based silver miner Silver Wheaton got a sour reception shortly after reporting flat earnings for its second quarter, which included silver sales volumes down by 6.2% as lower-grade ores from Goldcorp's Luismin mine in Mexico dragged on its output. But sales revenue still rose nearly 20% because of an increase in the realized silver price. And with more supply agreements providing price protection for Silver Wheaton with low-cost per-ounce silver, more than 96% of the 1,123 CAPS members rating Silver Wheaton expect it to outperform the market.

Yamana Gold
While most of Yamana is about gold, a drop in copper prices, and a more expensive cost structure, took a bite out of the company's first-quarter results earlier this year. Then, even after Yamana reported second-quarter results including a 34% increase in adjusted earnings, shares were knocked down to near their 52-week low. The lower share price, and the fact that the company is considering cutting some non-core assets to focus on its more profitable mines, are reasons why nearly 97% of the 2,935 CAPS members rating the company still give Yamana the thumbs up and believe it will beat the S&P.

Coeur d'Alene Mines
Coeur d'Alene has lost more than 60% of its value since March; the silver miner posted a $5.4 million loss for the second quarter. But its Palmarejo mine -- where production is scheduled to begin next March -- is expected to be one of the top five silver mines in the world and could spearhead huge production growth. While some analysts expect a surplus in silver this year, most investors in CAPS land are expecting strong demand to continue into the foreseeable future. So 95% of the 1,225 members rating Coeur d'Alene expect it to outperform the market.

Ultimately, whether or not you believe a fall in any stock is warranted, your own research is more important than collective opinions. CAPS can help you quickly focus your due diligence, and even point out potential pitfalls you may not have seen.

Add your take on these or any of the 5,500 stocks that investors have covered in Motley Fool CAPS.

Strong companies with great growth prospects are recommended to Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers each month. To see all the stocks that have helped Tom and David Gardner beat the market by 41 percentage points on average, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock habitually looks for silver -- and gold -- linings in even the darkest of clouds. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here and is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy is made of sugar and spice and everything nice.