"Investors helping investors beat the market." That's how The Motley Fool's CAPS community describes itself, and to date there are more than 125,000 CAPS members doing just that. Day in and day out, CAPS members share their thoughts on thousands of stocks; behind the scenes, CAPS' rating algorithms rank CAPS members and stocks, making it easy to find the best-performing stock pickers and the community's favorite stocks.
But with almost 3 million stock recommendations on nearly 5,400 stocks, not to mention those 125,000 member portfolios and countless member blogs, where should a Fool start? There's no right answer, but I thought I'd kick you off on your travels with some of the best of the community over the past week.
Let's blog it out
CAPS' blogs are a great way for members to share broad market thoughts or get more in-depth on a particular stock idea or investment theme. Every week, members add reams of great new insights to this area of the community.
Looking for some direction as the global financial ground continues to shift? CAPS blogger rhallbick has brought us the 10 rules for investing, courtesy of former Merrill Lynch analyst Bob Farrell. My favorite rule? No. 10: "Bull markets are more fun than bear markets." Click through for the full list from rhallbick's blog.
On the company news front, CAPS All-Star TMFBomb reacted strongly to the news about Satyam Computer Services
What do you think will be the best and worst stocks of 2009? CAPS blogger DemonDoug has started a contest on his blog, calling for readers to pick the stocks that inspire their greatest optimism and pessimism. He's picked Dendreon on the upside and Ryland Group on the downside. Click through to chime in with your picks.
CAPS bloggers also managed to come up with some good comedy this past week. ocsurf brought us a Calvin and Hobbes comic from more than 15 years ago that he says foreshadowed the meltdown of U.S. automakers GM
Tagging the best performance
Sure, CAPS is largely about rating individual stocks, but the community also has resources for keeping track of industries and investing themes. CAPS' "tags" allow members to easily find stocks in certain industries or geographies or that share certain characteristics -- like being a "serial acquirer."
The CAPS tags also allow us to see which groups of stocks have been walloping the rest of the market. Over the past month, dry bulk shipping has topped the list with a smoking 109% return. One of those dry bulk shippers, Navios Maritime
Just as the economy is in a recession so is the shipping industry. [Navios Maritime] has the cash on hand as well enough long term contracts to see it through the stormy seas. It has good management that is holding shares in the company and they have activley reduced cost to see it thru. When the storm ends [Navios Maritime] will come out of it better than many of it's competiters and be positioned to take advantage to expand it's fleet at reduced costs.
Though the 67% return for the "copper" tag isn't quite the double that dry bulk shippers scored, it's been a pretty great run nonetheless. Freeport-McMoRan
The best of the best weigh in
The top 10 players on CAPS don't keep their spots by being complacent, and most have been pretty active over the past week, sticking their thumbs in both directions.
Fourth-ranked tenmiles added only four picks over the past week and was largely positive, giving three out of those four picks an outperform rating. Among the thumbs-ups was Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick Landec
Re-entering long on food packaging play Landec after recent sell-off. Debt free microcap with nearly 40% of current market cap now in cash; attractive long-term growth prospects - looks cheap in here for long term buyers under $6
Elsewhere, two of CAPS' top players found themselves at odds on their take on Income Investor recommendation American Capital
Want more? You can quickly track down the full portfolios of CAPS' top members by clicking through here.
You can go your own way
But of course this just scratches the surface of CAPS, and there's no right or wrong way to use the wealth of information that members have contributed. If nothing above caught your fancy, you can always just click on through to CAPS and blaze your own trail.
More CAPS Foolishness:
On Jan. 12, 2009, Fool co-founder David Gardner, Jeff Fischer, and their Motley Fool Pro team will accept new subscribers to their real-money portfolio service. Motley Fool Pro is investing $1 million of the Fool's own money in long and short positions in a range of securities, including common stocks, put and call options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They also incorporate proprietary CAPS "community intelligence" data into their research. To learn more about Motley Fool Pro, and to receive a private invitation to join, simply enter your email address in the box below.
Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Freeport-McMoRan, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy thinks it's time for Chuck Norris to step in and scare the economy straight.
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