Even on the market's worst days, buyout news and other short-term forces can send individual stocks up by 10%, 25%, even 50%.        

For example, shares in CV Therapeutics joined in the merger fray and rose 36% the day it was announced that drugmaker Astellas made a $1 billion bid for the company.

But beyond less-predictable events like that one are stocks with fundamentally compelling reasons for recent momentum. The trick is to find those stocks. That's where Motley Fool CAPS comes in.

The story behind the story
CAPS is no crowd of lemmings. Its best-performing members' opinions do more to shape each company's rating than the picks of their poorer-performing peers. Let's use the collective wisdom of more than 125,000 CAPS members to filter out the noise and find companies offering strong momentum.

We'll use CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly zero in on companies with a stock price increase of at least 20% in the past four weeks, a market cap of greater than $100 million, and a beta of less than 3.

Below is a sample of stocks that our screen returned. If you'd like, run this screen yourself -- just keep in mind that results may change as the market changes.

Company

CAPS Rating
(5 stars max.)

4-Week
Price Change

Kinetic Concepts (NYSE:KCI )

*****

20.4%

Golden Star Resources (AMEX:GSS )

****

44.6%

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX)

***

21%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return from Jan. 2 through Jan. 30.

Beauty more than skin deep
While other medical-device makers such as Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) have been hurt by the slowdown in capital spending, Kinetic Concepts has been holding up fairly well. In its most recent quarter, revenue jumped 14%, only a smidge below the 17% full-year top-line growth. While fourth-quarter profit fell 22% due to costs related to the acquisition of LifeCell last year, the company continues to generate cash and is using it to pay down its $1.7 billion in long-term debt, which will help lower its large interest payments.

While it's easy to look back at the deal to take on LifeCell last year and wince at the premium paid for the tissue-repair product maker, Kinetic Concepts isn't wallowing in regrets and said last week that it expects a profit jump in 2009. The firm even set its forecast a notch above those of analysts. Many CAPS members believe the company has a solid foundation, and is poised to emerge a stronger player when times are good again. More than 97% of the 602 members rating Kinetic Concepts expect it to outperform the market.

There's no flicks like Netflix
While investors in CAPS are more divided on the prospects of Netflix, the company smashed right through expectations in the most recent quarter. Like Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), the movie rental firm is one of the few companies reporting good news lately, as consumer spending shifts dramatically. Netflix is on the right side of the equation these days, though, as it is actually showing signs of benefiting from the recession -- like other consumer companies McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Wal-Mart Stores -- as consumers look for more for their dollar.

Netflix reported that it brought in higher-than-expected earnings in the fourth quarter, which it has done for the past six of seven quarters. Revenue grew by 19% to $359.6 million and earnings per share reached $0.38 -- above the $0.34 analysts were looking. Such performance was in part thanks to gaining 718,000 net subscribers in the quarter. The company also expects more growth in 2009, far better than the ugliness many expect to see from Blockbuster.

CEO Reed Hastings said that the streaming movie service is helping the company's growth, with several deals in place with Microsoft, Tivo (NASDAQ:TIVO), and others to stream its movies to TVs using set-top boxes. This should help boost the average monthly revenue per subscriber, but the metric still fell in the recent quarter. Netflix may expand its mailings to six days a week -- that is, if the post office doesn't put the kibosh on the plan by cutting out one of its operating days. Taken all together, 84% of the 6,652 CAPS members rating Netflix remain bullish today.

And you?
What's your story? Whether you buy the tale of a stock that's soaring or souring, your own research is more important than collective opinions. But these collective opinions can make your due diligence a whole lot easier.

Add your take on these or any of the nearly 5,400 stocks that our 125,000-plus members have covered in Motley Fool CAPS. It's totally free to be a part of the community, and the payback is more than worth it.

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor service looks for companies with strong management poised to beat the market over the long haul. To see all the stocks that have helped Tom and David Gardner beat the market by 28 points on average, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock has his own story, but there's no "happily ever after" at the end of it. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Wal-Mart Stores and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Intuitive Surgical is a Rule Breakers pick. Netflix and Amazon.com are Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Kinetic Concepts. The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.