Whether it's in the corporate lunchroom, our cubicles, 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 fared worst. Below, we'll take a look at some of the most popular and talked-about stocks in the CAPS universe, and see whether you think they will outperform or underperform the market.

Stock

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

No. of Recs

% Outperform

Boeing (NYSE:BA)

****

3538

91.5%

E*Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC)

****

2418

93.2%

First Marblehead (NYSE:FMD)

****

3225

94.9%

First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR)

**

3401

77.0%

Select Comfort (NASDAQ:SCSS)

***

3167

89.2%

A tall drink of water
E*Trade has been adding new customer accounts at a torrid pace, but the market seems to be pricing its stock based on whether it will be able to get funding from the Treasury's TARP program -- even though the company and analysts feel the discount broker is already sufficiently capitalized. With E*Trade suggesting that it will likely receive as much as $800 million in government funding, CAPS member pjxk figures it's only a matter of time before its bad mortgage debacle is a distant memory:

The company will announce its approval of some bailout money from Uncle Sam and it will continue to gather new accounts and revenue from its brokerage activities. The mortgage losses are going away slowly but surely.

Bad news seems to have had a good run lately at airplane maker Boeing. Consistent delays in its Dreamliner 787, a machinists' strike, part flaws in the 737, potential layoffs next year, and reports of future order delays by a Chinese airline have put the company in the spotlight. That might also put a harsh glare on suppliers like BE Aerospace (NASDAQ:BEAV) and Honeywell (NYSE:HON).

None of that has deterred CAPS member jlpresses, who thinks the worst of Boeing's woes may be behind it: "Commercial/Defence spending take your pick,Strikes are resolved,Debt is low,Orders haven't been canceled,New year will bring new orders ,Dividends wil be disbursed,Now what's not to be positive about."

Despite the potential in the solar industry, investors remain concerned that a deflating economy could scuttle its immediate future. CAPS member rookie02 thinks stocks like First Solar are not worth much now, even if their long-term outlook renders them big-time winners:

i dont think anyone can say how far down the rabbit hole these stocks will go. i am not saying this is a bad stock to buy i am saying that until certain things in todays industry and market are either fixed or changed, there will be a cap on the growth of these solar stocks. As soon as these key indicators light off IMHO this stock is going to make some very wealthy individuals.

Gather 'round
With so many good opinions about today's top companies, gathering information from the CAPS community can be like trying to take a sip from a fire hose. Why not grab a pointy paper cup from the dispenser and join us at Motley Fool CAPS, 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 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.