Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. So why does the media focus so much attention on what Wall Street says about companies, instead of what it does with them?

Luckily for Wall Street watchers, the Internet brings us MSN Money's list of which companies the institutions are buying. True, we should be as skeptical of Wall Street's actions as we are of its words. But when the 135,000-plus lay and professional investors on Motley Fool CAPS agree with Wall Street's opinions, it just might be time for some buying.

Here's the latest edition of Wall Street's Buy List, alongside our investors' opinions of the companies involved:


Recent Price

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

OMNOVA Solutions  (NYSE:OMN)






Clearwire Corporation  (NASDAQ:CLWR)



Human Genome Sciences  (NASDAQ:HGSI)



Standard Pacific (NYSE:SPF)



Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Up Last Month" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. Recent price provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Wall Street vs. Main Street
Wall Street professionals think these stocks will go far, but Main Street investors aren't quite convinced. Medarex and Clearwire get only so-so reactions from the investors we track on CAPS. Human Genome -- well, when a stock goes from $3 to $14 over the course of a week, you know the existing shareholders will cheer. But it's unsurprising that new investors are hesitant to grab hold of this rocket ship.

The most interesting dichotomy I see on today's list, though, consists of the opposite reactions to homebuilder Standard Pacific on the one hand, and OMNOVA Solutions, a building materials maker (using specialty chemicals), on the other. If Main Street investors fear the homebuilder, why do they agree the materials maker's a buy?

Let's find out.

The bull case for OMNOVA Solutions
CAPS All-Star LakeEffect starts us off with the obvious answer: "Great fundamentals in a lousy economy." Direct and to the point. I like it.

In April, moshcaps pointed out that OMNOVA "[s]howed improvement in latest earnings report." Of course, now that it's July, that report becomes the second-to-latest. But it, too, showed improvement, at least on the bottom line.

Finally, Haventaclue1 appears to be still clinging to the hope, expressed early last year, that a "housing rally with lower rates and dropping home prices" will pull OMNOVA higher.

Maybe -- when last I checked, homebuilders such as Pulte (NYSE:PHM) and Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) were still busy losing money. Until things turn around for them (both report next month, by the way), I'd be leery of trusting in a housing rally to boost OMNOVA.

Now, I'm not entirely down on the stock. You see, tied to the housing market as its business is, OMNOVA's earnings are pretty depressed right now -- but analysts expect things to perk up in a hurry. The company's P/E now stands at 25 based on trailing earnings, but Wall Street has this one priced at a mere 12 times next year's earnings -- and marked for 44% annual growth over the next five years. Which will be pretty incredible if true.

Check your assumptions at the door
And yet, I'm skeptical of the ease with which Wall Street makes its long-term projections here. Last quarter, OMNOVA boasted about its "significantly improved second quarter earnings and cash flow." As well it should -- free cash flow for the last 12 months now totals $59 million. Problem is, over the last five years, OMNOVA averaged something closer to $11 million in annual free cash flow.

Call me a cynic, but if that's the best it could manage during the housing bubble, I have a hard time believing that OMNOVA will profit so much more from a mere ending of the housing bust.

Time to chime in
Of course, the purpose of this column isn't just to tell you what I think about OMNOVA Solutions, or even what other CAPS members have already written about it. What we really want to know is what you think about the company.

If you've got an opinion, we've got a place to state your case: Motley Fool CAPS.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 868 out of more than 135,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.