Whether it's the corporate lunchroom, your cubicle, or the local watering hole after work, there are regular places we gather to discuss news, sports or -- if you're like us -- stocks. Here at Motley Fool CAPS, we gather around the virtual water cooler daily to rate stocks and delve into their merits as investments.

Our 135,000-strong CAPS community -- where members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to some 5,300 stocks -- has earned its points by seeking out the businesses it thinks will outperform the market. Let's look at some of the top stocks in the CAPS universe that you're talking about the most and find out whether you think they'll continue their winning ways.

Stock

CAPS Rating (5 Max)

No. of Calls

% Outperform Calls

America Movil (NYSE:AMX)

*****

1,788

98%

Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW)

*****

1,880

99%

China Fire & Security (NASDAQ:CFSG)

****

1,836

97%

Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO)

*****

1,815

98%

Manitowoc (NYSE:MTW)

*****

1,773

98%

A tall drink of water
The economic morass we find ourselves in has been making a mess of things over at Manitowoc. Yet despite some heavy writedowns in the latest quarter, the maker of cranes and food service equipment still managed to surprise the market, beating the Street by a nickel on earnings of $0.18 a share.

Had Manitowoc included the revenue from its late-year acquisition of Enodis in last year's comparable quarter, the 4% increase in revenue it enjoyed this time around would have instead been a 22% drop. Having a foot in both the construction and service industries has made for dicey conditions, but Manitowoc isn't alone.

In heavy equipment, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) also got squished by the economy, while in food service, oven maker Middleby (NASDAQ:MIDD) was able to roast analyst expectations only through its own acquisition efforts. Its purchase of TurboChef increased Middleby's revenue 13%, without which the new owner would have experienced a 4% decline.

If we're going to ascertain how Manitowoc will perform going forward, however, we'll need to keep our eye on global economic conditions. Its crane segment makes up the bulk of revenue, accounting for 86% of 2008 sales, but more than half of its top line is derived from places other than the United States. As much as a recovery here at home will help improve results, Manitowoc is going to need the rest of the world to come along for the ride, too.

Yet global trade is expected to fall by more than 6% this year, and economic growth actually will be economic contraction, so we probably can expect weak results from Manitowoc for the next few quarters. Crane backlog fell 57% over last year's quarter, but equally ominous is that it's down 28% since the end of last year, reflecting fewer orders worldwide and across most crane product lines. One hopeful sign is that cancellations of crane orders have stabilized, turning into net positive orders in April.

Manitowoc sold off part of its acquisition -- the Enodis ice machine business -- to reduce debt from the larger Enodis acquisition. Regardless, it was a shrewd move to get the cash cow Endois, according to top-rated CAPS All-Star member Drew2142.

It's funny how many people will get upset that a company like this has a stock price trading where it is. I would think the proper thing to do, is smile ear-to-ear, and buy large quantities at an obscene price. This is a great company, that sold a great part of their business to pick up an even larger cash cow. [When] the dust settles, these guys will have solid returns, and a higher stock price.

Gather 'round
Putting yourself in the midst of the CAPS community is like trying to take a sip from a fire hose. With so many good opinions about today's top companies, why not grab a pointy paper cup from the dispenser and join us at the Motley Fool CAPS water cooler, where your input can help guide other investors toward stocks with bright growth prospects? 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.

Sign up today for the completely free service, and let's hear what you have to say about the great -- and almost great -- companies that interest you.

Atwood Oceanics is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. America Movil and China Fire & Security are Global Gains recommendations. Middleby is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick, and the Fool owns shares of it. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.