With the market continuing its recent depressing ways, investors are searching for areas of outperformance. Here's one possibility.

As a group, the companies with the Railroads tag in Motley Fool CAPS have an above-average rating of four stars out of five. During the first year and a half of CAPS, beginning in late 2006, four-star stocks on average returned 7%, well ahead of the S&P 500. But will this sub-group do as well?

Among high profile investors, Warren Buffett started buying into railroads back in 2006, with names such as highly rated Burlington Northern Santa Fe (NYSE:BNI) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC). With high oil prices, such investments make sense, as railroads provide relatively fuel-efficient transportation for bulk shipments. Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) and CSX (NYSE:CSX), for instance, have coast-to-coast shipping capability, moving tons of freight daily. Then there's Wabtec (NYSE:WAB), which provides components for locomotives and railcars, as well as building and refurbishing locomotives.

Yet the entire group has performed terribly, down some 21% over the past year. Granted, the S&P 500 has performed worse, so this collection of companies has managed to "outperform," but with that kind of outperformance, you might as well invest in CDs.

Considering that investing in railroads is to some extent a hedge against high oil prices and that oil prices have dropped more than 50% since their highs earlier this year, will these companies continue to outperform going forward? Buffett apparently thinks so, although he did trim some of his railroad holdings as early as last year. How about you? Vote in our poll and let the community know what you think, either with a comment below or going to CAPS to rate some of these companies.

Fool editor Jim Mueller had no position in any of the companies mentioned at the time of publication. The Fool's disclosure policy has been known to cry upon hearing the wail of a far-away train horn.