The best investing advice I ever received was from Tom Gardner. I couldn't tell you when or where he said it, or what I was doing when I heard it, but I remember the words distinctly.

"Study the masters," he said.

It's an oft-repeated theme here at The Motley Fool. We think that great investors can be great teachers when they expose you to what they're buying, and why. That's why we follow Buffett so closely. It's also why we created Motley Fool CAPS, a 125,000-strong community of stock pickers where ideas flow freely.

In my experience, the best learning happens when you combine good tools. Here, in this column, we'll compare data from Morningstar and CAPS to track which top investors are buying the best stocks in CAPS -- the ones that are proven to outperform -- and why.

Today's guinea pig? Chinese search star Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), which is also a pick of our Motley Fool Rule Breakers service. Each of these three high-rated funds has been buying shares, reports Morningstar:

Fund

Morningstar
Rating

Shares Bought

Other Recent Buys

Allianz RCM Technology
(DRGTX)

****

47,000

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI)

Hartford Growth Opportunities
(FGRWX)

****

45,000

BMC Software (NYSE:BMC)

Harbor Mid-Cap Growth
(HAMGX)

****

15,000

Varian Medical (NYSE:VAR)

Source: Morningstar.com.

And here's a look at superstar CAPS investors who think that Baidu will outperform:

All-Star

Player Rating

Other Recent Buys

BrianRuth

99.53

XTO Energy (NYSE:XTO)

htgao

99.03

Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI)

dwelllewd

98.08

Goldcorp (NYSE:GG)

Source: CAPS, as of Jan. 15, 2009.

That's not an easy call. Baidu has been marred by a scandal surrounding its paid-search practices. Critics have since piled on but the one thing they can't change -- Baidu's position as China's search leader -- is what BrianRuth likes about the company.

"I also think that Chinese search is relatively insulated from external pressure given the rapid expansion of technology infrastructure and the vast numbers of people in China who still aren't online," our Fool wrote last March. "Couple that with the rise in income and I think Baidu can still do well despite the rich valuation."

All-Star htgao went further in a December pitch. "I do not live in China, but I use it more often than Google. The fact is, it is BETTER than Google in many ways and people ALL AROUND the world use it."

The remainder of our CAPS community is mostly bullish. Of the 3,520 investors who've rated Baidu, 3,078 -- or 87.4% -- say it will beat the market. Do you agree? Let us know by logging in to CAPS now; it's 100% free to participate.

Activision Blizzard is a Stock Advisor selection. Baidu and Google are Rule Breakers recommendations. Try either of these Foolish services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google at the time of publication. He also writes for Rule Breakers. Check out his portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy, like a thick steak, is juicy and delicious.