Short-sellers and hedge funds, though sometimes shadowy, are often seen as the smartest guys in the room. They did their homework and will bet their capital against the crowd. It's not the most popular way to go, but the rewards can be quite lucrative.

On Motley Fool CAPS, we've got our own brand of leading analysts who find the chinks in a company's armor and correctly called its fall. "Underdogs" are investors who earned 100 or more CAPS points correctly predicting one or more stocks would underperform the market.

Let's look at some of the recent calls these All-Star investors have made. Yet, just as hedge fund operators don't always go short, we're going to look at recent Underdog picks no matter which way they've called them.

Underdog

Member Rating

Company

CAPS Rating (out of 5 max)

Call

SpecBear

100.00

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS)

**

Underperform

tenmiles

99.99

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS)

***

Underperform

Gtrinvestor

99.99

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)

*****

Outperform

NTMF

99.97

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)

****

Outperform

StatsGeek

99.97

Force Protection (NASDAQ:FRPT)

***

Outperform

Not every short sale goes as planned, so it's a risky position to hold. Stock prices can be irrational longer than you have money to stay in the game. So don't use this as a list of stocks to sell or buy, but rather as the launching pad for further research.

Underdogs still wag their tails
The market has seemingly suggested that defense contractor Force Protection will go the way of the Berlin Wall. Its shares trade for just a fraction of its 52-week high. Some seem worried that any retreat from Iraq would mean that Force Protection's mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, will not be needed.

While it missed the first round of funding on new joint light tactical vehicles with DRS Technologies, there will still be plenty of opportunities for Force Protection to gain access to the $20 billion contract. CAPS member Countyguy3322 thinks the market has overreacted to Force Protection's future and misses some positive points:

It is not going to be delisted, it can stay profitable for a long time just providing parts for existing models, not to mention the new contacts coming in.

Don't think you're the only one getting whiplash if you've been watching the shares of casino operator Las Vegas Sands. The stock has been on a steady decline all year long. Then, when it hit rock bottom last week at below $5 a share, it got the benefit of a short squeeze that has seen its stock catapult 187% higher after MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) said business was still good despite the economy. Sands shares have almost tripled in just a few days time, and though top-rated CAPS All-Star Orac78 timed his outperform pick almost perfectly, he realizes it's still pretty much a gamble:

Strictly a lottery ticket play. Loaded with debt.... It has been sold down so fast, it is due for a good rebound on any sustainable market rally.

There's no need to fear ...
When underdogs have their backs against the wall, that's when they can shine their brightest, but it takes more than a few All-Star picks and a quick paragraph to make buy or sell decisions. So start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS where your opinion can still save the day. While there, you can 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. There's more than you think.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection and an Inside Value pick. The Fool owns shares of Pfizer. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, 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 disclosure policy.