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, a new breed of contrarian investor can be found at Motley Fool CAPS. These savvy Fools are willing to see both the upside and downside of a stock. 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 max)

Skeptic

Member Rating

GrafTech International (NYSE:GTI)

*****

StatsGeek

99.99

Goldcorp (NYSE:GG)

***

luvb2b

99.98

Cameco (NYSE:CCJ)

*****

fransgeraedts

99.98

AngloAmerican (NASDAQ:AAUK)

****

d1david

99.98

Gafisa (NYSE:GFA)

***

MakeItSeven

99.97

Just as a list of their worst stocks would not be a list of stocks to short, the skeptics' favorites shouldn't be considered automatic buys. But they do offer an excellent starting place for your own research into extreme buying opportunities.

Inquiring minds want to know
Although gold has given back some of its recent gains, CAPS member cmgerace believes it will come roaring back, and that Goldcorp will prosper from a severe financial collapse. What might trigger that calamity? The failure of Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) or Freddic Mac certainly rank high on the list. Here's cmgerace's pitch from mid-April:

Gold at this time is a great place to hedge against the weaking dollar. I think the producers are the place to put the money, not in the rock. Gold Corp is a Tier II player which I think can control costs better the giants, Barrick [Gold] and Newmont [Mining] (NYSE:NEM). Also, Gold Corp could be a buy out player (the one being bought) by a major, which would give it that final boost in price.

Even though wind power and natural gas are all the rage since billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens unveiled his plan to wean us off foreign sources of fossil fuels, the cheap cost of nuclear power may soon regain popularity. If so, CAPS member Predaking thinks uranium miner Cameco will profit from it:

Don't expect Cameco to do anything in the short-term. While [Cameco] has exposure to various minerals, they primarily produce uranium, the main component for nuclear reactors. In time, the U.S. will realize that not building nuclear reactors for the last 30 years was a huge mistake and the ban will be lifted. If the government is truely worried about an energy crisis then offshore drilling is not the answer, cheap nuclear energy that has become much safer is the answer (see France's track record for safety). This a pure, long-term speculative play on the future price of uranium and U.S. politics and has nothing to do with [Cameco's] fundamentals or technicals.

While the U.S. suffers from the aftermath of a housing bubble, Brazil's number of real estate loans has grown at a compounded annual rate of 53% over the past three years, and its prospects for housing have never looked brighter. Gafisa is Brazil's second-largest homebuilder, and CAPS member kaka22 sees the ebullient Brazilian economy keeping its housing market going: "Brazil is a booming economy still, as inflation eases, the expectations are that interest rate cuts are to be [implemented] in early 2009 which will allow one of the biggest construction and house builders in Brazil to prosper..."

Seeing past the obvious
Skeptics know that a shimmering morning lies just beyond the storm clouds. But by the same token, the sun can't shine forever, whatever the crowds may think. It pays to start your own research on these skeptics' stock picks on Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made, all from a stock's CAPS page. What's your forecast? Drop by CAPS and tell us which stocks are your favorite contrarian picks. 

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.