Short-sellers and hedge funds, though sometimes shadowy, are often considered the smartest guys in the room. They did their homework and will bet their capital against the crowd. It's not the most popular way to go, but the rewards can be quite lucrative.

On Motley Fool CAPS, we've got our own brand of leading analysts who found the chinks in a company's armor and correctly called its fall. "Underdogs" are investors who earned 100 or more CAPS points by correctly predicting that one or more stocks would underperform the market.

Let's look at some of the recent calls these All-Star investors have made. Just as hedge fund operators don't always go short, we're going to look at recent Underdog picks no matter which way they've called them.

Underdog

Member Rating

Company

CAPS Rating (out of 5 max)

Call

FreundInvesting

99.72

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI)

***

Underperform

jesvlim

98.04

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

***

Outperform

dmmedia

95.32

Sprint-Nextel (NYSE:S)

**

Underperform

TrackUBS

90.06

Goldcorp (NYSE:GG)

***

Outperform

malia3

89.47

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

****

Underperform

Not every short sale goes as planned, so it's a risky position to hold. Stock prices can be irrational longer than you have money to stay in the game. So don't use this as a list of stocks to sell or buy, but rather as the launching pad for further research.

Underdogs still wag their tails
With analysts suggesting that premium-priced laptops are still a big seller for Apple, it's easy to understand why the Mac maker is reluctant to produce a netbook, the surprisingly popular low-priced, portable computer.

Although Steve Jobs said, "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk" -- instead pointing to the iPhone as the Apple equivalent of a netbook -- at least one analyst thinks that incorporating a processor from P.A. Semi, which Apple acquired last year, could help the computer maker make a competitive and competent machine that wouldn't cannibalize sales of iMacs or MacBooks.

Yet, even if the higher price lines are selling well compared to other Macs, the research analysts at NPD Group reported that Apple's market share dropped 270 basis points to 13.7% in January. Mac enthusiasts might have been buying, but other consumers hesitated to shell out the additional dollars necessary for those premium-priced machines. On the other hand, monthly sales for Windows PCs jumped 16%, as netbooks surged higher.

Apple shouldn't ignore this niche for too long. Even with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) reporting a 19% decline in quarterly PC sales, analysts still see it and Dell (NYSE:DELL) getting more competitive in the space.

Its visionary leader is stepping out of the limelight, so Apple investors need to contemplate what a future without Steve Jobs will be like. His absence may allow for the introduction of products like netbooks, which could represent an opportunity for Apple to make a big splash at the same time it shores up its margins.

CAPS member rpgizzle believes that Apple's next big thing might be just over the horizon:

Every 5-6 years Apple comes out with a revolutionary product. Macbook, Ipod, Ipod Mini, Iphone, Macbook Pro, Iphone 3G. Not to mention itunes is going to consistently create revenue for them. The price has come down due to the recession, but their products are the best, and they have fiercely loyal customers. Most of whom are young and will continue to use Apple products. They have great customer service, and quality products. If only they also paid a dividend (although investing in R&D is definitely paying off). Look for the next revolutionary product in a couple years...although i'm sure they will update and improve their existing products.

There's no need to fear...
Underdogs shine brightest when their backs are against the wall. Still, it takes more than a few All-Star picks and a quick paragraph to make buy or sell decisions. So start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS, where your opinion can still save the day. While there, you can 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. There's more than you think.

Sprint Nextel and Dell are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Whole Foods Market and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

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.