Whether it's the corporate lunchroom, your cubicle, 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 125,000-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 top stocks in the CAPS universe that you're talking about the most and whether you think they will outperform or underperform the market.

Stock

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

No. of
Calls

% Outperform
Calls

American International Group (NYSE:AIG)

***

2,474

86%

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG)

***

2,138

89%

Disney (NYSE:DIS)

****

3,711

92%

GameStop (NYSE:GME)

****

2,976

95%

Vonage

*

1,475

26%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

A tall drink of water
Companies that are receiving TARP funds seem to be using our tax dollars to give windfalls to their executives. The folks at footnoted.org found that Hampton Roads Bankshares (NASDAQ:HMPR) was one company giving two executives signing bonuses -- valued at nearly $1 million -- on the day the bank was receiving $80 million in TARP money. It shouldn't be surprising, then, to learn that American International Group, the insurer that's been bailed out three times and was already caught lavishing executives with pampered retreats on the taxpayers' dime, was at it again.

A congressional inquiry found that AIG was trying to give $3 million to several top executives who are otherwise subject to limits on their compensation through restrictions passed in the bailout bill. With more than 300 banks getting TARP dollars, how many of them are using taxpayer money to pad executives' accounts?

Some investors, however, are looking at AIG as simply a business the government has invested too much money in to let it fail. CAPS member BWharam thinks it will benefit from a worldwide recovery that's still to come:

This company appears to be one that the government will not let fail and is setup to benefit from the recovery programs being put into place. AIG is also setup to benefit from the worldwide recovery ...

Game on!
Why go out and spend money on fleeting entertainment when you can vegetate at home on the couch playing video games over and over again? Apparently a lot of people are asking themselves that question these days, and concluding there's no reason not to venture to the local GameStop and pick up a few games to pass the time during the recession. Sales rose 22% to almost $3 billion in the latest quarter, while same-store sales, the important retail metric measuring a company's organic growth, jumped more than 10%.

CAPS member Aussieguy73139 sees GameStop growing because its product offerings cut across all platforms, from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to Sony (NYSE:SNE) to Nintendo:

Games! Wii… PS3… X-Box.

The market has been growing and with Blue Ray now the dominant format for large disk systems, the PS3 system and better graphics on less disks makes teh [Gamestop] model compelling.

A national presence with online access, competitive pricing not only on games but also hardware, makes this a growing company.

With the talk of recession and depression... people need something to lift their spirits...

Gather 'round
The CAPS community is like trying to take a sip from a fire hose. There are so many good opinions about today's top companies -- why not grab a pointy paper cup from the dispenser and join us at the Motley Fool CAPS water cooler, 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.

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.

Microsoft and Walt Disney are Inside Value selections. Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. GameStop and Walt Disney are Stock Advisor selections.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of GameStop and Disney but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.