Hey there, Fools. I've summoned our Motley Fool CAPS community once again to highlight a few of Wednesday's biggest winners among the stocks with top ratings of four or five stars.

Without further ado:


Yesterday's % Gain

Vimpel-Communications (NYSE:VIP)


Honda Motor (NYSE:HMC)




United States Steel (NYSE:X)


Corning (NYSE:GLW)


There's a reason why I selected those notable gainers, as opposed to other winners making noise on Wednesday, like low-rated Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS). Stocks go up all the time, but unless you were able to predict the pop, what does it matter?  

Our community of more than 130,000 CAPS Fools considers its "high-star" stocks the most likely to outperform the market.

Written in the (five) stars?
For example, 97% of the 1,329 members who've rated VimpelCom have a bullish opinion of the stock. In late January, one of those Fools, thefirm2009, described the Russian telecom provider in purely positive terms:

A premier runner in the telecom industry in the greater Russia and surrounding areas with unlimited expansion potential. ... All long-term debt will be stabilized in less than a year when the ruble becomes strong again. There is no real downside to the company at this point besides the sliding ruble, but that will cease by Spring 2009 and begin to rebound.

After yesterday's pop, shares of VimpelCom are up 20% since that call.    

The bullish lesson?
In investing, it's far better to keep your head down rather than up. As long as you make a conscious effort to limit your downside, like thefirm2009 demonstrated, market-trouncing returns usually just take care of themselves. Like Warren Buffett once said, "Never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results."

And now for the losers ...
Of course, winning isn't everything in the stock market.

Here are five of Wednesday's biggest decliners with one- or two-star ratings:   


Yesterday's % Loss

Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL)


Urban Outfitters


ITT Educational Services


Career Education


Strayer Education


While yesterday's plunge in highly-rated Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) may have caught our community off-guard, low-ranked stocks are fully expected to fall hard.

Did CAPS call the fall?
In February, for instance, CAPS All-Star rebelseeker educated our community on the risks of Apollo Group:

Earnings subject to student lending programs & credit. Current lawsuits & investigation into whether the company is playing games increases stock loss risk. Company currently under watch and apparently has been for some time. … In my estimation current risk vs reward/return not justified.

Consistent with that call, shares of the education provider plunged yesterday after the company warned of an increase in bad debt expenses, despite posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

The bearish takeaway?
Always identify a stock's risk exposures before they come back to haunt you. One of the most common mistakes we can make as investors is failing to see the dangerous things that lurk just around the corner. Unless you're willing to consider all of the possible ways your stock might get killed -- both in the short and the long run -- there's a good chance you'll wake up one day and get blindsided.

The final Foolish move
Investors often focus strictly on stock price movements without realizing that developing a proper stock-picking process counts most.

Over at Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are Foolishly sharing insightful investment tips to help, above all else, identify tomorrow's big movers. Over time, consistently reverse-engineering winning -- and losing -- stocks will help you become a more Foolish investor.

Log in to CAPS today and start participating. It's absolutely free -- and a lot of fun! 

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy is always the big winner.