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 earned its points by seeking out the businesses it thinks will outperform the market. Below we take a look at some of the top stocks in the CAPS universe that you're talking about the most and explore whether you think they'll continue their winning ways.


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

No. of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Dolby Labs (NYSE:DLB)




Middleby (NASDAQ:MIDD)




National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV)




NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX)








A tall drink of water
Sound specialist Dolby Labs apparently just tunes out the noise and pumps up the volume when it comes to record sales. The company makes not only your surround sound better, it also improves the sound technology behind your DVD player, computer, and television set-top box. It's been included in all the new digital TV tuners sold over the past couple of years, and you'll be seeing it a lot more in your MP3 players and mobile handsets. It's even in theater projection systems.

In the current climate where consumer electronics have shown weakness, Dolby has managed to find new markets to exploit, particularly overseas, where people are just beginning to experience the crisp new sounds of digital audio. Beginning last December, for example, all TVs sold in France are required to come equipped with Dolby's digital technology, and Italy has finalized its specs and should soon mandate similar requirements.

So while analysts have been focusing on the end of days for DVD players, Dolby has been listening to the sweet sounds of growing streams of revenue from many different venues. Dolby is even included in the new Windows 7 operating system from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The company is well-positioned to benefit from the welcome retirement of Vista.

Top-rated CAPS All-Star sehawk99 thinks that much of Dolby's future remains with consumer electronics, and that once the economy recovers, Dolby should see its value rise:

It really just comes down to what happens to the consumer economy. If the consumer starts spending, the market will get hyped about Dolby again.

Heating up
The stock of oven maker Middleby got burned in the market meltdown that began last September, even as it was on a tear making acquisitions. Some wonder if that means Middleby is heating up or overheating, but it has traveled a path similar to that of rival food services equipment maker FMC Technologies (NYSE:FTI). And a number of investors have taken note of its current lower valuation. CAPS member bkwfool thought the stock carried a hefty price tag previously, but the charred remains look attractive now:

[Middleby] spent quite a while above my approximation of its intrinsic value. But now that it has cratered to $22/share, there is some margin of safety. Its biggest issues are that it took on debt for acquisitions and that the slow economy may make its customers pull back from purchasing new ovens. But its debt is at a low interest rate, and the cheaper restaurants to which it sells ovens are likely to be hurt less than the pricey ones. And its management has proven to be good for several years.

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.

Middleby is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. Microsoft is an Inside Value selection. NYSE Euronext is a Rule Breakers pick. National Oilwell Varco and Dolby Laboratories are Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Dolby 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.