Think of investor sentiment as a pendulum that swings in tandem with a company's share price. When investors begin to think highly of your company, its stock might also start heading in the right direction. Alas, you can rarely tell when investors are warming to a stock until after it's made that upward swing.

An astrolabe for investors
But Motley Fool CAPS' proprietary ratings, aggregated from the opinions and accuracy of 115,000-plus members, offer a great way to monitor investor sentiment. Like astronomers scanning the skies, investors can follow a stock's stars through its CAPS rating trend and track investor sentiment to help determine the best time to invest. Data suggests that CAPS' highest-rated stocks performed best while the lowest-rated did worst, so let's look at previously rated one- or two-star companies that have recently enjoyed a bump in investor confidence and see whether the stars are really aligning in their favor.

Company

CAPS Rating (5 max)

Recent Price

Next-Year EPS Growth

Altair Nanotechnologies (NASDAQ:ALTI)

***

$1.81

17%

American International Group (NYSE:AIG)

**

$2.43

260%

Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU)

***

$226.30

60%

Conexant (NASDAQ:CNXT)

*****

$2.55

70%

Pozen (NASDAQ:POZN)

***

$9.00

(117%)

Sources: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance

Obviously, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- just a starting point for further research. Yet if some of the best investing minds are taking notice of these stocks, maybe we should, too. 

The sun's always shining somewhere
It's hard conjuring up feelings of amor towards American International Group, better known as AIG. After all, not only has it siphoned off more than $80 billion in tax dollars to keep it propped up, but it has also spent $440,000 on lavish spa treatments for executives, was doling out millions to executives who were leaving the company, and was actually planning additional junkets. As galling as this is, AIG has a new CEO who has agreed to cancel all future travel plans, along with a new CFO to keep an eye on expenses. CAPS member alfredoceballos thinks the insurer will eventually come back, though it will take time: "[T]they are entrenched well globally, plus they got devalued excessively because of scandal and headlines, but I think the business fundamentals are still there."

Searching for value
Meanwhile, as CAPS member HaircutTheGreat compares Chinese search engine Baidu.com to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and finds it lacking based on valuation, member foolishlymeek sees upside because of the demographics present in the Chinese market.

International exposure
China's favorable business tax rates
[China] -- great potential to service this huge population
Has more than 60% of China's online search market

Finally, like Advanced Battery Technologies (NASDAQ:ABAT), Altair Nano is looking to power up your next green car with a lithium ion battery. In the meantime, though, a deal with the U.S. Navy to provide a battery backup system for its ships is under way. It's that deal that has CAPS member Heckspawn expecting to see more customers for its technology:

Altair is a game changer with their Lithium Titanate battery technology. The military is already into it and what they get transfers over to the public before too long. Look for more buyers of their 1MW (yes, megawatt) battery the USN is testing now.

Shine your starlight
So are these stocks driving ahead or ready to crash? It pays to start your research on these stocks 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. Then weigh in with your own thoughts on which stocks you think are shooting stars or supernovas. Since it's free to sign up and post your thoughts, why not use this opportunity to take your star turn?

Google and Baidu.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.