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 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 fared 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 Stars Max)

No. of Recs

% Outperform





General Electric (NYSE:GE)




General Motors (NYSE:GM)








Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM)




There goes the sun?
Solar power sits under a number of storm clouds, most notably the credit crisis. First, Lehman Brothers imploded, destroying a major source of solar financing. Now General Electric is adding to the misery, refusing to fund further solar projects because it is unable to appropriately price them.

Solar is just one small part of GE's huge conglomerate, and CAPS member MJKpayday thinks the company will outperform over the long haul:

General Electric is a well diversified company with a great American story. They have a global reach with solidified businesses in developed countries and growing interest in emerging countries as they develop at accelerating rates. It won't be often that you'll be able to buy such a great company right along with Buffet and at such low price to earnings ratios.

Yet not everyone seems so ready to follow Buffett into a GE investment. CAPS member SharpSEO points out that the terms Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) got are far better than those available to regular folk; investing in the conglomerate could still be an expensive proposition:

[General Electric] bulls often note that Buffet's fund recently gave GE a "vote of confidence" by investing $3 billion. Well, that vote came with a steep price tag (10% divident perpetual preferred shares, plus warrants to purchase $3 billion at around $22 a share over the next 5 years.)

Then GE announces they're selling $12 billion more of common?! You're GE! You shouldn't have to sell $12 billion in common stock at a 10 year low. They say that as GE goes, so goes America. Maybe it's true. I hope not.

You can read the full pitch, which also delves into the potential problems in GE's financing arm, on the company's CAPS page.

Drive safely
Also making the rounds at the water cooler is General Motors, which seems to have put the pedal to the metal in its effort to buy Chrysler. While the $25 billion in government loans passed earlier this month was supposed to help GM and Ford (NYSE:F) build better cars with alternative fuel sources, GM seems more interested in using the cash to snap up its Detroit rival.

GM's unhappy habit of equating bigger, faster, more powerful cars with the future got it into this mess in the first place. According to CAPS All-Star member xSixSigmaMBB. the automaker might eventually need a full-blown bailout to stay afloat: 

I am afraid that the big automakers are in for a surprise in the not so distant future... They are getting bled to death with cars that nobody wants and the pipeline for new, fuel efficient vehicles isn't there.

Ford & GM sunk a ton of money into investing in "Bigger = Better" vehicles while their offshore counterparts like Honda and Toyota began introducing smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles.

I'm betting that the next bailout that happens is the US Auto Industry.

Gather 'round
Sometimes, 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, instead? 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.

Sign up today for the completely free service, and let us hear what you have to say about the great and almost-great companies that interest you

Dell and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Rule Breakers pick. Berkshire Hathaway is also a Stock Advisor recommendation and a Motley Fool holding. 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 here. The Motley Fool has a thirsty disclosure policy.