You've heard of the "January Effect," where investors sell stocks in December for tax reasons, only to buy them back in January, causing their prices to jump.

But it's bigger than that. Retailers, for example, have some seasons that perform better than others, simply because of the nature of the business. And some stocks actually do best in February.

Investing based solely on the calendar is certainly not a Foolish strategy, but wouldn't it be great to know ahead of time which stocks performed best at what times?

On Motley Fool CAPS, more than 125,000 members have weighed in on some 5,400 stocks, awarding five-star ratings to the companies that best command their confidence. We've paired their opinions with data going as far back as five years to see which stocks perform best in each month. The following five companies seem to do best in February:

Stock

Market Cap

Avg. % Return-Feb.

Avg. % Return-Rest of Year

CAPS Rating
(5 max)

LTM Return

First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR)

$11.5 billion

29.97%

6.83%

**

(17.58%)

Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO)

$15.3 billion

6.65%

(0.98%)

**

(41.10%)

Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW)

$12.4 billion

3.62%

(1.83%)

*****

(62.16%)

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX)

$10.0 billion

4.24%

(0.24%)

*****

(66.39%)

Alcoa (NYSE:AA)

$6.7 billion

5.45%

(2.01%)

****

(71.37%)

Sources: America Online, Motley Fool CAPS. LTM = last 12 months.

What has given aluminum producer Alcoa such steely resolve in February compared to the rest of the year? There could be a number of explanations, and even if rival Aluminum Corp. of China (NYSE:ACH) also has a February fling, we don't recommend using this as a list of stocks to buy or sell. Consider it a platform for further research. We may need to look closer for a reason, but Alcoa's four-star CAPS rating suggests that investors think there's more to mine here than just a brief slurry of opportunity.

If these companies really have resolved to do better in February, let's take a look at some that might live up to that promise.

Not a good bet?
Germany and Spain have been hot spots for solar industry growth, and when either sneezes, the industry players catch a cold. So when Germany's Phoenix Solar announced the other day that it foresees 2009 earnings growing at a healthy clip, we might expect that First Solar will bask in the glow, too. After all, Phoenix is one of First Solar's primary customers, accounting for anywhere from 10% to 23% of net sales.

But Phoenix is a systems aggregator that designs and sells complete photovoltaic systems for use in buildings or solar power plants. Since it focuses on reducing the costs associated with solar systems, its improved profitability guidance suggests it may be extracting better pricing terms from its thin-film suppliers, such as First Solar. That means First Solar may have margin issues ahead if it's unable to hold the line on pricing.

Investors, though, think there may be other drivers of growth for First Solar. A number of CAPS members, like kittenacious, find the Obama administration generating buzz about alternative energy enough to propel it forward:

I just think solar-powered technologies will see a surge in interest as alternative energy sources becomes the new "buzz" (again) for a while. We will be interested in what Obama has to say, at least until we can see if his ideas show any marks of success or not. If he is buzzing about it, you can bet people will jump on the bandwagon while it's hot. It won't likley make huge advancements right away, but I believe it will spike upward. Also, I have seen more advertising recently for solar-based technology. Seems to be already starting a slow peak in consumer interest (again).

Tunneling deep
The lousy earnings report by Freeport-McMoRan was partly the result of the steep decline in copper prices that have pushed leading miners like it and Teck Cominco (NYSE:TCK) to the brink of despair. CAPS member reachnvj thinks shareholders have little to expect other than dilution:

Huge loss reported (about $14 billion). What followed that was even worse. The Company plans to issue common stocks worth about $750 million so that it can pay off its debts.

Expect the current stockholders value to be diluted and the Company's stocks to underperform in this economy.

A calming effect
It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. 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. Your voice affects these stocks, whatever month the calendar may display. Since it's free to sign up and express your investing opinions, why not use this opportunity to take your star turn?

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