Based on the aggregated intelligence of 115,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) has earned a respected four-star ranking. While five-star stocks have been the best performers, our data has shown that four-star stocks still outshine the market by a significant margin and shouldn't be taken lightly. Conversely, low-rated stocks have woefully lagged the market average.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at Applied Materials' business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

Applied Materials facts

   

Headquarters (founded)

Santa Clara, California (1967)

Market Cap

$19.04 billion

Industry

Semiconductor equipment

TTM revenue

$8.45 billion

Management

CEO Michael Splinter (since 2003)

CFO George Davis (since 2006)

Return on equity (average last three years)

17.3%

Competitor

KLA-Tencor

CAPS members bullish on AMAT also bullish on

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO)

CAPS members bearish on AMAT also bearish on

Novellus Systems (NASDAQ:NVLS)

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

Sources: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Motley Fool CAPS. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Over on CAPS, fully 223 of 246 of the All-Star members who have rated Applied Materials -- some 91% -- believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bulls include a pair of my Foolish colleagues TMFSarahGen and Fool co-founder David Gardner (TMFBreakerDave), both of whom are ranked in the top 2% of our community.

In August, TMFSarahGen reminded our community that Applied Materials "recently stated that the bottom has been reached, and semiconductor equipment sales are going up from here."

A more recent pitch from David last month shares that contrarian spirit, writing:

Cash-rich, well-positioned leader will create long-term value at these prices for patient shareholders, and should turn nicely as its industry cycle bottoms out and turns. I'm patient, as I am for [NVIDIA] (NASDAQ:NVDA) and some other industry-related players.

My CAPS Stock of the Day today. Nice to be reminded of this long-term grower that I hadn't checked up on in some years....

What do you think about Applied Materials, or any other stock for that matter? Make your voice heard on Motley Fool CAPS today. More than 115,000 investors are waiting to hear what you have to say. CAPS is 100% free, so simply click here to get started.

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 Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation, Google is a Rule Breakers pick, and both NVIDIA and Linear Tech are Stock Advisor choices. The Fool's disclosure policy always gets a perfect score.