At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we were doing.

But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We'll also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we'll be tracking the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best …
In the middle of one of the biggest market meltdowns since the discovery of tulips, whom do you turn to for investing advice? Aside from the Fool, you might also want to listen to one of the best stock pickers in the business: NYC-based investment banker Soleil Securities.

Soleil woke up Monday morning, surveyed the carnage, and promptly started the trading week by downgrading DuPont (NYSE:DD) to "hold." Why? According to Soleil: "We don't know if the recent extreme turmoil in the global credit markets spills over into the real economy. But we do note that DD [is] among the most exposed to economically sensitive auto and construction markets of the companies in our coverage universe." 

With products ranging from the MetaFuse metal-plastic hybrids covering the family jalopy, to the ubiquitous Tyvek insulating panels covering the unsold mega-McMansion down the street from your house, it's clear on its face that Soleil has a point. Everywhere you look in this economy, there's DuPont.

But such a widespread business model also lends some diversity to the business, doesn't it? DuPont's multiple revenue streams are supposed to help strong divisions to make up for any weakness in flagging segments -- in theory. So is Soleil overreacting, or does this analyst have a strong enough reputation to command Fools' attention?

Let's go to the tape
With its record of 58% accuracy on its picks, and a CAPS rating that places it in the top 2% of investors tracked by CAPS, well, if you're going to listen to any pinstriper on Wall Street, Soleil should be on your short list. And when it comes to the "real economy" in particular, Soleil's record is just stellar:

Company

Soleil Said:

CAPS Says (Out of 5):

Soleil's Pick Beating S&P by:

Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL)

Outperform

*

56 points

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

Outperform

****

26 points

Nucor (NYSE:NUE)

Outperform

*****

14 points

3M (NYSE:MMM)

Outperform

*****

12 points

All of that may not excuse mistakes such as ...

Company

Soleil Said:

CAPS Says:

Soleil's Pick Lagging S&P by:

Ford (NYSE:F)

Outperform

*

23 points

Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL)

Outperform

*

34 points

... but it does go a long way toward mitigating the damage.

And when you look closely, it appears that a great many of Soleil's mistakes had their source in a single thing: failure to predict the superspike in oil prices, a spike that the laws of supply and demand are working hard to erase even as we speak. But for its short-term miscalculation on the price of oil, Soleil's record might look even better than it already does.

But what about DuPont?
I agree with Soleil on this one. Heck, I'll even go Soleil one better -- if dared to go out on a limb and make a buy/sell prediction, I'd lean toward unloading DuPont, rather than buying the stock at today's price.

Here's why. Right now, DuPont sells for 13 times trailing earnings. Doesn't sound like much, I know. But most analysts don't think the company can manage much more than 6% long-term growth from its present level of profitability. Right off the bat, the PEG ratio here sits north of 2.0, which seems very expensive to me.

But on top of that rough 'n' ready valuation tool, we have an even better indication that DuPont is too expensive: Over the past 12 months, the company generated only $1.6 billion in free cash flow, which was less than half what it reported as net earnings under GAAP. When you look past the already-expensive PEG ratio, you'll see that the stock carries a 26 price-to-free cash flow ratio -- and worse, a 32 enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio. I just see no margin of safety whatsoever in this one.

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. 477 out of more than 115,000 players. 3M is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.