Keeping your portfolio above water in these markets is no easy task. Companies can be too easily whipsawed by musings from the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve, making investors who are successfully navigating these rough waters rare indeed.

The All-Stars in our Motley Fool CAPS investor intelligence database have been consistently steering their picks through these markets, like some of the professionals who view this as the best time in 35 years to invest in stocks. Let's look at some of the recent picks from this community's mavens. If these All-Stars have been able to maintain their status, their opinions on stocks might be worth watching.

CAPS Member

Member Rating

Member Since

Recent Stock Pick

CAPS Rating (5 Stars Max)

Call

mandrake66

99.69

Nov. 7, 2006

FedEx (NYSE:FDX)

****

Underperform

drewbink

99.64

Nov. 29, 2006

Hercules Offshore (NASDAQ:HERO)

*****

Outperform

LarkinSoft

99.55

Sept. 15, 2006

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB)

****

Outperform

anossov

99.54

Oct. 12, 2006

Lennar (NYSE:LEN)

*

Underperform

imsetuc

99.52

Sept. 21, 2006

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)

***

Outperform

Against the current
We may just owe Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis an apology. If the report in Thursday's Wall Street Journal is true, the government strong-armed the bank into keeping quiet about the risks inherent in its takeover of Merrill Lynch before the deal was completed. Lewis has allowed himself to be vilified in the media, on Wall Street, and in Congress, but he was forced into silence.

Some may think it's a conspiracy theory Lewis hatched to preserve his own hide. He has been on the ropes because shareholders are angry about the chasm of losses the acquisition caused, and pointing the finger at Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson could be a diversion. Those two regulators deny coercing the CEO, and Lewis himself says they never came right out and demanded that he give in.

Regulators asked Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) to bid for Bear Stearns last year. Rick Wagoner was ousted from the CEO position at General Motors (NYSE:GM) recently.

Like Wagoner before him, there are many reasons why shareholders may rightly want Lewis out, and it's debatable whether tough talk from government regulators is a sufficient excuse to violate your fiduciary responsibility to shareholders.

Yet whether Bank of America is a good investment requires a look beyond today's headlines. CAPS member scoylesays, for example, says you need a lot of patience to buy in.

the next bubble to burst is credit cards and everyone knows it, [Bank of America] was just the confirmation for the market when they released their quarterly earnings report. so let me get this straight, [Bank of America] goes down 25 percent on their earnings report yesterday, then [Geithner] speaks today and says most banks are fine, and market rallies? am I missing something here? what exactly has changed since yesterday? [Geithner's] assurances aren't going to fix unemployment or pay peoples credit card bills. The balance sheets aren't going to change overnight so what gives? I am bullish on [Bank of America] long term, short term it only makes sense to go down.

Ahoy there
Whether you've been in the markets for years or are new to them, 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.

FedEx is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.