In my weekly Fool column "Get Ready for the Fall," I run's 52-week highs list through the "wisdom of crowds" meter we call Motley Fool CAPS. The result: a list of stocks that have flown so high, investors are starting to get nervous about that whole "gravity" thing. But while many stocks will indeed plunge back to Earth, some seem immune to gravity and are steadily riding a rising megatrend to ever-greater heights.

Today, we'll move beyond stocks that have hit 52-week highs and identify companies now surpassing five solid years of outperformance. Which of these will thrash the market averages for another half-decade? Here are this week's leading contenders:


Recent Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5):

Bull Factor

Plum Creek Timber  (NYSE:PCL)




Wells Fargo  (NYSE:WFC)




Tompkins Financial




Capitol Federal Financial




PNC Financial  (NYSE:PNC)




Companies are selected from the "New 5-Year Highs" lists published on MSN Money on Thursday/Friday. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

"Everybody loves a winner"
Hey, don't look at me. I didn't write the truism, and I can't help it if this week, investors refused to follow the "rules." All of a sudden, investors have decided that the thing to do in the middle of the worst banking crisis we've seen since the savings-and-loan debacle is ... to buy banks.

Yet Fools are not convinced this is the smartest move to make. Of the four banks entering the lists today, two promptly fell to one-star ratings. The other two earn only grudging approval. And the exception? That would be ...

The bull case for Plum Creek Timber 
CAPS member oldfart50 introduced us to Plum Creek back in May:

Another play on a company with a strong dividend. Plum Creek is the largest private landholder in the USA and a major timber producer. They are also developing some of their more valuable properties in key recreation areas. I have been a long time stockholder and still think this is a great, safe haven.

Safe? In today's topsy turvy-market, that's a word with resounding appeal. But what makes Plum Creek "safe?" Archeantus explained back in January:

Owns 8 million acres of forests. Trees are a renewable resource, and land just appreciates over time. As they say, "They ain't makin' more land!"

Indeed they ain't, Archeantus. And another thing they're not making -- at least, not as quickly as any of us would like -- is oil. CAPS member dross1954 offered up an interesting buy thesis on Plum Creek in May that addressed this angle:

Very simple, with oil skyrocketing, China & other emerging nations asking for more, the US is in need of a natural energy source. The decision on which natural resource is still up for speculation, corn (maybe), hydrogen (in the long run) coal (yes), wood pellets, yes! Easy to manufacture, burn time is increasing, clean & green, renewable source.

But really, timber?
Sure, timber. I know, I know. The mortgage crisis. Homebuilders from Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) to KB Home (NYSE:KBH) tell us it's like Apocalypse Now out there, and maybe apocalypse for the foreseeable future. Nobody's buying homes, so nobody needs lumber anymore, as Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) demonstrate. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But if you think about it, Plum Creek's popularity still makes a lot of sense. The company's a timber REIT, you see. When real estate is hot, it fells trees, sells the timber, and sells off its land to homebuilders. When real estate is not hot, Plum Creek lets the trees keep growing -- about 5.5% in mass, year in and year out, in good economic times and bad.

Sure, the stock is pricey. After falling back from its moonshot on Thursday, Plum Creek now sells for a redwood-height price-to-earnings ratio of 36 -- which, to this Fool, seems rich for a company expected to grow its profits at only 8% per year over the long term. Then again, when things are good, they can be really good for Plum Creek. Just a few years ago, the company was earning about 50% more than it's earned lately.

Meanwhile, as we wait for those good times to roll again, Plum Creek's still paying out that 3.2% dividend. And those trees are still growin'.

Time to chime in
So what do you think? Would you buy Plum Creek at today's price, or is this sapling's price growing too big for its britches? Head on over to Motley Fool CAPS, and tell us what you think.

Motley Fool CAPS : It's fun, it's free, and it just might make you famous.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's ranked No. 339 out of more than 115,000 players. Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.