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 …
When ace stock picker Morgan Keegan recommended buying Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) early last month, I told Fools not to heed the Wall Street wizard's advice. I warned that the stock was too expensive and that despite having an otherwise stellar track record, MK was making a bad call on this one.

I was right.

Research In Motion closed at $102.67 on Sept. 8, down 6% in the face of Morgan Keegan's buy rating. Far from rebounding, the stock has since proceeded to lose another 33%.

Is it safe to buy now?
A 33% drop -- that'll upset almost any valuation calculation. When I said RIM was expensive at 150% of today's price last month, I hadn't a clue we'd get a chance to revisit the valuation less than 30 days later. But thanks to MK peer JMP Securities, we now have just that opportunity.

Yesterday, you see, JMP upgraded RIM to "market outperform." The reason? Prepare to be shocked: "The recent sharp sell off in Research In Motion presents investors with an opportunity to purchase a high-quality company at a reduced price."

That's not so much an opinion as a statement of the obvious. RIM is a high-quality company, and the stock's steep selloff has reduced its price. (Duh.) What JMP fails to mention is whether the price has been reduced enough to make RIM cheap. Yet ignoring this oversight, investors responded to yesterday's upgrade with a spate of tech-buying that lifted RIM shares nearly 11%. Fellow smartphone makers Apple and Nokia rose in sympathy. Heck, even Motorola (NYSE:MOT) was able to hitch a ride on this train!

But the question remains -- is JMP even on the right track?

Let's go to the tape
I'm skeptical. JMP has far from the best record on CAPS. The analyst gets more than half of its stock picks wrong, and in general, it underperforms more than 80% of the investing universe.

On tech stocks in particular, our tracking shows that JMP's been wrong on Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD), wrong on Omniture (NASDAQ:OMTR), and wrong on Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY), too:


JMP Said:

CAPS Says (Out of 5):

JMP's Pick Lagging S&P by:




47 points




22 points

Texas Instruments 



15 points




9 points

Infosys Technologies 



2 points

Sure, JMP gets the odd tech pick right -- it's still in positive territory on Apple, for instance. But by and large, the record looks pretty darn miserable, so I hope you'll forgive me if I go into this analysis with an initial bias against heeding JMP's advice.

Time stops for JMP Securities
Still, I can't help invoking the old saw here: "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day." After running the numbers, I think Tuesday just might have been one of those times for JMP.

What's left of RIM's market cap currently values the company at just 25 times trailing earnings. And while my previous objections to RIM's anemic free cash flow remain in force, at last report it still give the company a price-to-free cash flow ratio of 34. Not as good as the price-to-earnings figure, admittedly, but good enough.

Foolish takeaway
If -- and this is a big "if," because it's a big number -- Research In Motion lives up to analysts' hyped projections of 38% annual profits growth over the next five years, then the stock finally looks cheap.

If you trust the analysts' projections and want to buy RIM today, you have my blessing. And if you trusted the analysts last month, and ignored my warning not to buy, you have my sympathy.

On Oct. 7, 2008, Fool Co-Founder David Gardner and his Motley Fool Pro team will invest $1 million in a portfolio designed to help you make money in any market. In the coming weeks, the team, relying heavily on proprietary CAPS "community intelligence" data, will establish long and short positions in a broad range of securities, including common stocks, publicly traded put and call options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). To learn more about Motley Fool Pro and to receive a private invitation to join, simply enter your email address in the box below.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Nokia. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Omniture and Apple are Stock Advisor recommendations. You can find him on CAPS, pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's ranked No. 980 out of more than 115,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.