When the clock's ticking down and the game's on the line, which of your teammates do you trust to sink a winning shot? Sure, you could dish the rock to your resident superstar -- but what if he's playing ice-cold at the moment? So instead, you pass to the guy with the hot hand, the one who will be deemed en fuego tomorrow on ESPN.

Momentum investors are looking for stocks in a similar state of sizzle. But momentum by itself will only get you so far. I prefer to find high-quality stocks that also have some positive inertia on their side. It's like kicking the ball out to your team's superstars when they do have a hot hand.

There's no doubt that now's a tough time to try and find winners out there. To unearth the current league leaders, I ran a simple momentum screen with Motley Fool's CAPS. Each of the stocks below was up by double digits over the past four weeks -- despite the S&P's loss -- and has been rated highly by CAPS players.

Stock

4-Week Change

12-Month Change

CAPS Rating (Max 5)

Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP)

28.1%

(74.1%)

****

Sigma Designs (NASDAQ:SIGM)

27.7%

(69.8%)

*****

Kinetic Concepts (NYSE:KCI)

19.6%

(49.4%)

*****

UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH)

13.6%

(38.3%)

*****

El Paso (NYSE:EP)

12.5%

(45.2%)

****

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and CAPS as of Feb. 13.

At first glance, this sure looks like a high-quality group. But, as always, I highly advise taking a closer look before you throw a bounce pass in the direction of any of these stocks. (You can run my screen yourself, if you'd like.) I'll kick off your research with a look at Kinetic Concepts.

Providing the pep
A double whammy of good news helped Kinetic Concepts party through recent market sluggishness. Kinetic's bounce started with a quarterly earnings announcement that blew past analysts' estimates. Earnings per share actually fell for the company's fourth quarter, but that primarily owed to restructuring actions and costs associated with the acquisition of LifeCell earlier this year. If we back out these costs, EPS rose 6.5%. Thanks to the LifeCell acquisition, revenue for the quarter increased 14% in the fourth quarter. And while these numbers wouldn't perk too many ears during good times, at a time when the financial world seems to be falling apart bit by bit, they're certainly a breath of fresh air.

The company got an extra boost from the announcement about a week later that two of its patents for wound-healing products had been upheld in a U.S. appeals court. The same court also affirmed that a product made by a Smith & Nephew subsidiary does not infringe on Kinetic's patents.

Looking ahead
Kinetic Concepts is a relatively small company that faces some big challenges. In the business of wound care, the company finds itself up against Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Ethicon business, as well as smaller players such as Smith & Nephew. Meanwhile, it bumps up against the likes of Stryker (NYSE:SYK) and Hill-Rom in its smaller therapeutic support systems business. Top off that tough competitive environment with the risk from the heavy debt load Kinetic took on when it acquired LifeCell, and you've got a company with a lot on its hands.

But those challenges aren't enough to keep investors and CAPS members away from the stock. Not only does the health care market as a whole offer some protection from the global recession, but Kinetic holds a high share in its primary markets and its stock is trading at just over seven times analysts' 2009 consensus earnings estimates.

Back in October, CAPS All-Star TMFBreakerJava took a lot of this into account when giving the stock a thumbs up: "This health care innovator has a disruptive new technology for treatment of serious wounds. It is cheap in the wake of the general market meltdown and concerns that it paid too much for a recent acquisition."

Fielding your team
Do you think any (or all!) of the companies I've rounded up deserve a place on your All-Star team? You can share your thoughts on Kinetic Concepts, or check out more of what your fellow Fools had to say about it or any of the other stocks above, by stopping by CAPS. While you're there, you can also take a peek at few more of the approximately 5,400 other stocks rated on CAPS.

I think I heard a "booyah" somewhere out there -- thanks, Stuart Scott!

More CAPS Foolishness:

Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor pick. UnitedHealth Group and Stryker are Inside Value selections. Sigma Designs is a Rule Breakers pick. UnitedHealth Group is also a Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Stryker, UnitedHealth Group, and Kinetic Concepts. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

When it comes to basketball, Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer might be the guy Ron Shelton had in mind when he thought of the title White Men Can't Jump. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy has a 55'' vertical jump and can dunk from half court. Or so I hear.