Lots of companies want to assume the mantle of "too big to fail" in their bid to wrest dollars from the Treasury for a bailout (and the government seems pretty willing to assign it, too). Some companies have had too much invested in them (both privately and by the government), so it seems improbable that they would be allowed to go under at this point.

American International Group (NYSE:AIG) would seem to fit the bill. It has far-flung, worldwide operations far removed from its primary insurance business and looks to shed some of them in an effort to streamline, as in the sale of its wealth management subsidiary to an Abu Dhabi investment company. Add in a total $150 billion (so far) infusion from the government to keep it afloat, and you have a company that looks like it has become too crucial to government face-saving to fail.

That also seems to be the opinion of a number of investors who look at AIG's sprawling empire, how entwined it has become around the world, and its low price and believe it is a good buy now.

CAPS member FenixFire finds the firm's huge size to be a benefit and writes that if investors watch the stock carefully, they can find opportunities to profit from it.

AIG is a huge, very huge, company, so huge that the word huge does not begin to describe it. Yes times are tough, yes there was corruption, I dare you to find one company that is traded that is not corrupt in some manner. AIG will recover, be smart, buy cheap and watch this stock like a hawk.

What's hot, what's not
American International Group is just one of several stocks that, according to Google's search activity, is drawing more interest lately. Below are a few more hot stocks we've found by watching the giant's search trends, which we then pair up with ratings from the Motley Fool CAPS community. Over the first 20 months of tracking the collective intelligence of CAPS, 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 a company is expected to do. Here are a few that top the search engine.


CAPS Rating

Return on Capital, Past 12 Months

Long-Term Growth Est.

American International Group




Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)




CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS)




Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)




US Bancorp (NYSE:USB)




Sources: Google Finance; Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

When you've got the federal government feeding you cards, it seems difficult not to come away with a winning hand. Such is the case with Bank of America, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), and a few others that have benefited from the government stepping in to arrange marriages between them and some distressed rivals. Not everyone is convinced, though. CAPS All-Star dexion10 thinks Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis may have been too smart by half in acquiring Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) and figures the bloom will wilt pretty quickly.

how can a bank buy the two companies with the worst mortgage portfolios and come out smelling like a rose...I don't think it can. I think [B of A's] CEO is one of the dumbest in the [business].... a company that has to serially acquire others is hiding from the truth and [B of A] is that company!!

On another front, CAPS member KOOVIAN thinks Hewlett-Packard has been doing the right thing with its cost cutting, and finds the EDS acquisition a means for cutting the legs out from under the competition.

HP under the current CEO has been doing the right moves in both cost cutting, restructuring, and market penetration to deliver impressive results. Compared to the other IT companies, it is a solid growth machine. Going into the future, the EDS acquisition will enable HP to cut out even more competitor's units because they will control more of the customer's IT decision making process.

Wait and see what will happen to the companies that we know of today. IN 5 years, I believe that only IBM, HP, and [Cisco] are sure to still be around. [Sun Microsystems], Dell, EMC, and a multitude of others may simply shrink and vanish. Estimate solid methodical growth that should move it consistently above the pack.

Seek and ye shall find
It takes more than a brief glimpse and a few searches 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. 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.

US Bancorp and Bank of America are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. Google is a Rule Breakers recommendation. Dell is an Inside Value choice. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.