Investors are always hunting for the next big stock -- the dream stock whose price increases several times over when the market finally discovers it. It's easy to look back and discover the 10 best stocks of the past decade. But I'm more interested in the tools that can help me evaluate tomorrow's greatest companies.

Motley Fool CAPS offers a variety of resources to aid Fools in finding tomorrow's leaders. Our 130,000-member community is full of investors helping each other beat the market.

We'll enlist CAPS to screen for promising Net companies, then get the story behind some of its more highly rated stocks. CAPS' nifty screener will help us find stocks with:

  • A market cap of at least $100 million.
  • A three year revenue growth rate of at least 15%.
  • A price-to-earnings ratio of less than 25.
  • A gross margin of at least 50%.

Then we'll tap the collective intelligence of our CAPS members to see whether these companies present real opportunities -- or whether the numbers fail to tell the true story.

Opinions with the numbers
Below is a sample of stocks our screen returned. You can run this screen yourself -- remember, though, that your results may differ from ours as the market changes.

Company

Revenue Growth Rate, Past 3 Years

Gross Margin

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM)

41.6%

82.5%

*****

j2 Global (NASDAQ:JCOM)

19.1%

86.3%

****

Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU)

56.4%

78.7%

****

Data and star rankings from CAPS as of April 24.

Akamai
There's no arguing that the content delivery network business is becoming more competitive, with Akamai being tailed by rivals like Limelight Networks, Level 3 Communications, and a host of smaller providers increasing in numbers. Users like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) have more choices for content delivery these days, but many investors assert that Akamai still holds the lead with its superior quality and won’t be as susceptible to price competition.

Akamai provides video delivery to many tier-1 online customers such as MTV Networks, and recently launched a service with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) that enhances video quality and performance. The AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight brings true HD quality streaming and is already being used by major online broadcasters in Canada and Italy. If Akamai continues to show that it can solve content delivery issues and make the user experience better ahead of its competitors, it's less doomed than some think. In CAPS, 96% of the 2,602 members rating Akamai see it that way and expect the stock to outperform the market.

j2 Global
j2 Global specializes in what some think of as outdated business communication services like fax and messaging, unifying them and using the Internet for transport. Though it's seen some usage declines, the company has held up well during the recession and its shares are up 8% over the past year. It reported record free cash flow of $88.2 million in 2008 as it marked double-digit growth in subscription revenue and increased margins.

j2 Global added 172,000 net new customers last year and it is now approaching close to a million paying customers. Many CAPS members see good potential for continued growth from the niche company, as more businesses use its services. As such, 95% of the 407 members rating j2 Global expect it to beat the market average.

Sohu.com
Many Chinese stocks have been logging big gains lately. While Sohu.com hasn’t doubled like competitor Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), it has bounced back by more than 50% from its 52-week low. It recently pulled off a successful spinoff of its gaming unit, Changyou, in an almost non-existent IPO market, though Sohu still holds more than 70% of the fast-growing company. The new shares have gotten off to a good start thanks to revenue that grew nearly five times in 2008, with strong earnings and high net margins helping as well.

Sohu finished last quarter with its highest operating margin in years and reported a 275% increase in earnings in the fourth quarter. It ended up with $300 million in cash and no debt, which gives many CAPS members confidence that the company can weather the economy and maintain long-term growth. More than 95% of the 1,019 CAPS members rating Sohu.com are bullish today.

Let 130,000 members be the jury
The collective wisdom of a huge pool of investors can help give context to a page of numbers from a stock screen -- but individual investors are still the judge. Fools should always perform their own due diligence.

Run your favorite factors through the Motley Fool CAPS screener. It's totally free, and we think you'll like the results.

Akamai, Baidu, and Sohu.com are only a few of the dozens of stocks selected by the Motley Fool Rule Breakers service to soundly beat the market over the long haul. To see all the stocks David Gardner and the analyst team have recommended, take a free 30-day trial today.

Fool contributor Dave Mock dreams of stocks and sugarplum fairies, but not together. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Apple and Netflix are Stock Advisor picks. Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. The Fool's disclosure policy screens the good, the bad and the ugly.