Keeping your portfolio above water in these markets is no easy task. Companies can be too easily whipsawed by the whimsical musings of the Treasury Department or the Fed, making investors who've successfully navigated these rough waters rare indeed. A steady track record of staying afloat is even more impressive.

The All-Stars in our Motley Fool CAPS investor intelligence database have found themselves particularly adroit at consistently steering their picks through these turbulent markets -- just like some of the top professionals, who view this as the best time in 35 years to invest in stocks. Let's look at some of the recent picks of this community's longtime investing mavens. If these All-Stars have been able to maintain their top status through bull and bear markets alike, their opinions on stocks for the months and years ahead might be worth watching.

CAPS Member

Member
Rating

Member
Since

Recent Stock Pick

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Call

martynanasi

99.65

10/3/06

Alcoa (NYSE:AA)

****

Outperform

greenAB

99.64

10/8/06

Sigma Designs (NASDAQ:SIGM)

*****

Outperform

greenvillewolf

99.62

9/14/06

ABB (NYSE:ABB)

*****

Outperform

epc53

99.61

9/10/06

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)

****

Outperform

WilyInvestor

99.61

9/13/06

First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR)

**

Underperform

Rowing against the current
Like the St. Patrick's Day party hangover that many of us will soon be nursing, we'll also be paying for this nasty recession for a long, long time. It's not because of the incredible spending plans that have been put in motion, the bailout du jour followed by news of rich bonuses still to be paid (thanks, AIG!), or even the potential nationalization of the nation's banks. No, it's more insidious than all that. This recession is going to make us all very, very fat.

Fast-food purveyor McDonald's once again posted same-store sales that proved to make a very happy meal for investors. When accounting for the leap year last year, February's comps were some 5.4% higher than a year ago, which followed a greater than 7% jump in January.

As consumers continue to feel they're getting a good value from McDonald's value menu, they've been passing under its golden arches in ever-greater numbers. By stretching our wallets, we'll be expanding our waistlines, and that can't be good for the country's health.

McDonald's isn't alone in benefiting from consumers' desire to find more affordable dining options. Burger King (NYSE:BKC) is lovin' it, too, with comps at its largest franchisee up 5% for the quarter so far, while Wendy's/Arby's Group (NYSE:WEN) had mixed results. For its most recent quarter results, which ended in December, the Wendy's chain posted a 3.7% gain in same-store sales as consumers ate up its $0.99 Value Trio sandwich, while Arby's saw comps decline 8.5%. The difference, according to management, is that the consumer is seeking out a $5 price point and Arby's average check is around $7.50.

Despite the consistency of its strong efforts, McDonald's also remains the best value for investors, selling at a discount to its rivals when comparing its P/E on both a trailing and forward basis. It's that combination meal of a value-pricedmenu and a value-priced stock that leads investors like CAPS member Quietman58 to suggest the fast-food joint will continue to outperform the market:

People will be looking for cheaper and faster ways to break the routine in their lives. When they go out they will be looking for a nice place to go (MickeyD's has been upgrading their look, at least they are in my area.) for not a high price. These things added to the coffee market they are picking up should put them in good shape to make money while the economy recovers.

Perhaps looking into stocks of gyms after the recession ends will be the next source of investor profits as we strive to take off all the weight we'll put on eating at McDonald's now.

Ahoy there!
Whether you've been in the markets for years or are brand-new to investing, 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. Then share your views with the CAPS community on whether these old salts have the wind in their sails.

ABB is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Sigma Designs is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. 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.