It's hard to imagine any retailer better situated to profit from the economic malaise we're mired in than Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT).

The country's gross domestic product barely budged 0.8% higher, in real terms, over the past 12 months, and it would have recorded a greater than 3% drop had only consumer spending been considered. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, major retailers reported for October that their same store sales dropped, on average, 0.9% from the year-ago period, and that number would have been significantly lower if Wal-Mart's number had been excluded.

Where Target (NYSE:TGT) saw comps fall 4.8% last month, and Costco (NASDAQ:COST) watched them drop 1%, Wal-Mart reported a 2.4% growth in comps last month, well exceeding analyst expectations of just 1.6% growth. Apparently the discount retailer is looking to boost those results even further as it has announced a plan to cut prices every week until Christmas.

CAPS member jawood57 finds Wal-Mart ready to meet the needs of folks who still desire to provide a meaningful Christmas for their families. With 10 hot toys to be priced at $10, Wal-Mart ought to fit well into their budgets.

With the current economic downturn companies the deal in low pricing and volume such as [Wal-Mart] should weather the storm much better than the other retailers this holiday season. People are still going have Christmas but it will be on a much smaller budget and [Wal-Mart] fits that budget better than any other retailer.

What's hot, what's not
Wal-Mart is just one of several stocks investors have been prowling the Internet for recently. Below are a few more hot stocks we've found by watching Google's search trends, which we then pair up with the ratings from the Motley Fool CAPS community. Over the first 20 months since we began tracking the collective intelligence, the data shows that newly minted five-star stocks offer the best opportunities for investors, while the lowest-rated companies fared the worst. A five-star rating is the highest a company can get in CAPS.

By adding in some performance measures for the past year, we can get a handle on how they're expected to do in the future. Here are a few topping the search engine:


CAPS Rating

Return on Capital, Last 12 Months

5-Year Earnings Growth Est.

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD)








Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI)




Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA)








Sources: CAPS, Yahoo! Finance, and Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Has Google grown so large that it will be hampered in its ability to make deals necessary to grow further? The Justice Department had problems with its plan to hook up with Yahoo!, as did many advertisers. Top-rated CAPS All-Star MtnCowboy feels that Google will have problems going forward:

Too many unknowns, nobody wants to 'shack up'. There are too many search engines and probably more to come. The days of money flowing out the faucet are over.

On the other side, dragofly thinks that the search king is still the go-to site for advertisers since they know they'll get their products and services seen. With Christmas coming, this will be a peak period for Google.

As we pull out of the recession and especially head into Christmas which is the prime time for the advertisement industry, the retail companies will have more money to spend towards getting customers for Black Monday. Google is at a discount heading towards a peak time of year.

Seek and ye shall find
It takes more than a brief glimpse and a few All-Stars searching amongst the ruins of the market 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.

Wal-Mart is an Inside Value selection, Google is a Rule Breakers pick, and Costco is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Wal-Mart 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.