True penny stocks are a minefield, but the copper beauties we pick up in my weekly column "Making Cents in Penny Stocks" are often just beaten-down winners whose shares have fallen below the $10 mark.

There are also those companies whose shares trade at the other end of the spectrum. I call 'em "three-digit stocks," though if they're anything like Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A), they can trade in the four-, five-, and six-digit range, too.

While a penny stock might not be a good buy simply because it's cheap, a three-digit stock shouldn't scare you away just because it carries a hefty price tag. Handsome is as handsome does, so we check in with the Motley Fool CAPS community to see which ones the investor-intelligence database sees as having the best chance of succeeding.

For the first 20 months after we began tracking CAPS data, we found that newly minted five-star stocks offered the best opportunities for investors, while lowest-rated companies fared the worst. Pairing that information with our high-priced high fliers below, we'll have the beginnings of an idea of whether these stocks can maintain their lofty valuations.


3-Digit Price

CAPS Rating (5 max)

Return on Capital, TTM

Seaboard (AMEX:SEB)




Markel (NYSE:MKL)








Alexander's (NYSE:ALX)




First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR)




Source: CAPS and Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data as of Nov. 18, 2008.
TTM = trailing 12 months.

High-falutin' honeys
Can you love Google the company without loving Google the stock? It seems that lots of investors are wrestling with that dilemma, and as the search king's stock has fallen below $300 for the first time in about three years, it gets them to wondering whether it is essentially a one-trick pony. Will Android be the thing that separates it and keeps Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) playing catch-up? CAPS member smashinguk writes that the search specialist has many levers it can pull:

Christmas is going to be good for Google. As someone who runs a web publishing firm we are seeing seasonal upticks in eCPM rates, right on schedule. A number of initiatives on Google's part to extract more revenue from their huge traffic are under way. Google is a black box, they can turn the taps up in so many areas to maintain growth and meet forecasts. No other company is better placed or has as much control to be able to do this. Online advertising offers much clearer return and transparency of ROI than any other form of advertising.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to find many investors calling Markel a miniature version of Berkshire Hathaway. The specialty insurer is an established industry leader in the excess and surplus field, and has a smart team leading it. While catastrophic losses always present a risk, the investing prowess of Tom Gayner continues to win accolades, and CAPS member awhill100 figures market panic has knocked Markel well below what it should be trading at:

Markel is a solid company with great leadership. The economy has hit this stock hard over the past few months. However, the panic in the market has dropped this stock to almost half of what it should be valued at.

Seaboard doesn't have quite the same following as Berkshire, Google, or Markel, but it has found a profitable niche in pork and transportation. That doesn't translate into a loyal investor following; CAPS member brabinger thinks its disclosure is less than optimal, making it difficult to fairly value:

I hate stocks that are opaque and Seaboard certainly qualifies. ... They provide only the most minimal information on their performance, and even their SEC filings are less detailed than most other stocks. ... This stock has already been taken down pretty hard in the last 6 months. I expect it to go lower as part of the broader commodities unwinding.

Count to 10
These three-digit stocks might be on their way to even higher valuations. It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. 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.

Microsoft, Markel, and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Markel and Berkshire Hathaway. 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's disclosure policy always has time for you.