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 some 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.

Stock

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

No. of Recs

% Outperform

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD)

**

3099

81%

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN)

**

3284

71%

Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK)

*****

5876

97%

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS)

***

4990

90%

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT)

***

5037

86%

A tall drink of water
The oligarchs running Goldman Sachs, Citigroup (NYSE:C), and a handful of other investment houses were front-and-center participants in creating the instability of our financial markets. CAPS member LipniakMajorat figures the landscape has been radically altered so that Goldman will be unable to churn out the profits it was once famous for:

[Goldman Sachs] is essentially a black box kind of operation relying on complex, typically quantitative models that had performed well but are unlikely to work for the next year or so. I believe markets will not follow historical patterns (quantitative models rely on those patterns) for quite some time, thus not only restricting [Goldman Sachs]'s ability to make money but also undermining its very business model. Furthermore, FDIC's regulated banks, and [Goldman Sachs] is now one of those, have made a fraction of investment banks' profits. While Goldman did far better than others navigating through the ongoing credit crunch, I am just not sure where its profits will now come from.

Wal-Mart is another firm often considered a pariah, though for completely different reasons. Although it has made itself an integral part of many consumers' plans to survive this recession, CAPS All-Star kaskoosek feels that the valuation of the discount retailer exceeds a rational risk-reward ratio:

Yield of 1.7%???? Sorry but this is very low for me. Add to that a very high market cap and P/E ratio. Earnings at best should stay the same and not improve. This is not a monopolistic sector to have a valuation this high. Risk/Reward is not attractive.

Lately it seems that Advanced Micro Devices is looking to become more of a niche player against the dominance of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). However, CAPS member YaHammar is hopeful that the new cash infusion it received from the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund will be enough to fund its growth to mount a serious challenge to the prevailing status quo:

The demand for chips of all varieties will increase for the foreseeable future. Eventually the refurbished chips of the past that are so pervasive in all industry today will not be able to keep up. Business owners will be fed up with sub-standard chips ... Intel will not be able to fill this void completely. [Advanced Micro Devices] will have a nitch and a growing one at that. Additionally, the external help of UAE putting billions into this company demonstrate future confidence in AMD's ability to rebound.

Gather 'round
Sometimes exploring the CAPS community is like trying to take a sip from a fire hose -- there are 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.

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.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Wal-Mart and Intel 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.

Wal-Mart, Intel, and Chesapeake Energy are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares and covered calls of Intel. Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.