Whether it's the corporate lunchroom, your cubicle, or the local watering hole after work, there are regular places we gather to discuss news, sports, or -- if you're like us -- stocks. Here at Motley Fool CAPS, we gather around the virtual water cooler daily to rate stocks and delve into their merits as investments.

Our 120,000-strong CAPS community -- where members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to more than 5,400 stocks -- has shown a propensity for making prescient market calls. Our data indicates that newly minted five-star stocks offer some of the best opportunities to investors, while the lowest-rated companies fare worst. Below we'll take a look at some of the top stocks in the CAPS universe that you're talking about the most and whether you think they will outperform or underperform the market.


CAPS Rating
(5 max)

No. of Recs

% Outperform

Altria (NYSE:MO)




Citigroup (NYSE:C)












Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)




A tall drink of water
With Citigroup having high consumer credit exposure, and some people thinking credit cards are the next shoe to fall -- does anyone have any footwear left? The white-shoe financial house is not expected to earn a profit until perhaps late next year. CAPS All-Star Har1en sees tough times ahead for Citi after it suffered defeat at the hands of Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) in the Wachovia matter:

After losing the battle for Wachovia with [Wells Fargo], Citi will need to do some major backpedaling. They will attempt to milk as much money as they can from the various government agencies that they can, but the fact is that this company has languished on its laurels for too long, got too big, and doesn't have a good strategy for improving its brand.

Even if they do win a $60B settlement from [Wells Fargo] (hahahaha!) I doubt very much that it will help them. Their only hope is that Wells Fargo or Warren Buffett buys them.

Whether you're a rigid PC or a more free-wheeling Mac, Microsoft remains the 800-pound gorilla in the room that must be confronted. Even Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) must consistently try to wean computer users away from the ubiquitous Windows-running masses. Although it has done so in greater numbers lately, Macs still remain a far, far distant contender to the throne. It's the market dominance that Microsoft wields that has CAPS members like Vladimirkb seeing no end to the computer market's dichotomy:

It has a distinctive monopoly in the indsutry and sales on rise, earnings also are... Late years were great for the company - sales rose, whle stocks are still on the same level as 2001, 2004, etc. P/E ration is quite low right now. Company is quite conservative and rational - the only competion I see for Microsoft is Apple, but it is still far from capturing such a big part of the market.

The expectation -- or perhaps hope -- that the somewhat iconic Crocs will become the target of a buyout remains the focus of many CAPS members, like thewscott:  

this brand is worth at least current market cap or better. look for larger firm to acquire soon once capital deal flow returns. would be nice portfolio add for [Nike] or adidas.

Similarly, QUICKflip24 thinks the company's financial situation is fine except for some inventory issues:

If [Pacific Sunwear] can get a take out offer, then surely a brand like [Crocs] can. Not expected to make money this year but not expected to lose much either. balance sheet is fine...just some extra inventory.

Gather 'round
Tapping the collective wisdom of the CAPS community is like trying to take a sip from a fire hose: so many good opinions about today's top companies. Why not grab a pointy paper cup from the dispenser and join us at the Motley Fool CAPS water cooler, where your input can help guide other investors to stocks with bright prospects for growth? 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. It's free.

Crocs and PacSun are Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt recommendations. Microsoft and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Apple and PacSun are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Pacific Sunwear, but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.