Trying to time the market is notoriously hard, but sometimes the difference between hanging onto some great gains and losing those gains -- and then some -- boils down to getting the timing just right. Recently, that's been the case with stocks in the energy block. With oil and gas prices soaring over the past few years, those stocks had been big winners for investors. The recent plunge in oil and gas, though, has left many investors shell-shocked as some stocks in the industry have lost three quarters or more of their peak values.

CAPS member cpaugh can certainly speak to the rewards of good timing. After picking National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV) to outperform back in January 2007, cpaugh hung onto it until June of this year for a very sweet 183% gain. Had the timing not been quite so perfect, that call would be underwater today.

Though cpaugh has only managed a stock-picking accuracy of 35%, this member has racked up more than 1,700 points, ranking just shy of beating 70% of the rest of the CAPS community. National Oilwell hasn't been cpaugh's only great call, either. Here's a look at a few other prescient picks:

Company

Date Picked

Call

Points

CAPS Rating (max 5)

Petrobras (NYSE:PBR)

10/5/06

Outperform

240

*****

MasterCard (NYSE:MA)

2/8/07

Outperform

146

***

PotashCorp (NYSE:POT)

10/5/06

Outperform

107

****

Data from CAPS. Points is how many percentage points the pick outperformed the S&P 500.

So what is this investor looking at these days? Here are a few recent calls:

Company

Date Picked

Call

CAPS Rating

Allied Irish Banks (NYSE:AIB)

12/11/08

Outperform

*****

Transocean (NYSE:RIG)

10/15/08

Outperform

*****

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL)

10/15/08

Outperform

****

Data from CAPS.

While not all of these picks may pan out, they could be a good place to start some further research. I decided to take a closer at Transocean.

Speaking of oil ...
Transocean's stock's chart looks similar to National Oilwell Varco's, and for good reason. If investors expect that falling oil prices will impact the demand for oil rigs, it's not surprising that they feel the same about oil drilling services.

Back in November, Transocean reported net income and revenue that rose 14% and 108%, respectively, for the third quarter. But with oil now down around 70% from its midsummer highs, investors worry that new projects will be curtailed, leading to lower demand for drilling services and declines in the dayrates that customers will pay for Transocean's services.

CAPS member guiron thinks this scenario will continue to play out for the oil sector, keeping Transocean's stock under pressure:

Oil will get battered for a while longer. When it gets above $60/bbl., then this type of drilling becomes profitable again. I made a mistake of getting bullish too early on this stock a few weeks ago, but I'm bearish until we get back to pricing favorable to offshore drilling. 

However, 98% of CAPS members nonetheless think that Transocean will outperform the rest of the market. The commentary from these oil bulls sounds less like guiron's conclusion, and more like what CAPS All-Star tuffsledding had to say back in late November:

This is a great company that has been thrown out with the bathwater in the Great Panic of '08. Patience will be rewarded. Oil prices will go back up as the world economy rebounds from the current mess. 

But here's the important question: What's your take on Transocean? Will it continue to be weighed down by falling oil prices, or is a rebound around the corner? Get in the action by clicking over to CAPS. CAPS is absolutely free and already has over 120,000 stock pickers chipping in to find the best stocks out there.

More CAPS Foolishness:

Allied Irish Banks is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Petroleo Brasileiro is an Income Investor recommendation. National Oilwell Varco is a Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Allied Irish Banks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer is on a 4,500 mile road trip and does not mind lower gas prices at all. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool’s disclosure policy thinks Bernie Madoff's next career should be in magic.