Even on the market's worst days, buyout news and other short-term forces can send individual stocks up by 10%, 25%, even 50%.        

For example, shares in AIG had a rare good day and shot up nearly 63% last Wednesday as short-sellers covered their positions ahead of its quarterly earnings report and the entering of a new CEO.

But beyond less-predictable events like that one are stocks with fundamentally compelling reasons for recent momentum. The trick is to find those stocks. That's where Motley Fool CAPS comes in.

The story behind the story
CAPS is no crowd of lemmings. Its best-performing members' opinions do more to shape each company's rating than the picks of their poorer-performing peers. Let's use the collective wisdom of more than 135,000 CAPS members to filter out the noise and find companies offering strong momentum.

We'll use CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly zero in on companies with a stock price increase of at least 35% in the past four weeks, a market cap of greater than $100 million, and a beta of less than 3. Below is a sample of stocks that our screen returned. If you'd like, run this screen yourself -- just keep in mind that results may change as the market does.

Company

CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

4-Week
Price Change

Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK)

*****

36.9%

Javelin Pharmaceuticals (AMEX:JAV)

****

49.6%

Alcoa (NYSE:AA)

****

39.2%

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)

***

38.2%

Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX)

*

101.8%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return from July 10 through Aug. 7.

It's a gas
Independent energy company Chesapeake reported that it pulled in $1.7 billion in revenue in the second quarter, compared with a revenue loss of $455 million last year that included a $1.6 billion hedging loss. The company boosted production in the second quarter and said that, like XTO Energy (NYSE:XTO), it doesn’t expect to let up despite the industry approaching full storage limits in coming months. It’s been receiving better pricing in places like Oklahoma and expects others to be forced to cut production when pipelines max out.

The company’s CEO said that after getting through the storage and pipeline issues in the short term, he expects that a rebounding economy will lead to higher natural gas prices and an increased number of rig counts next year. And Chesapeake will be beefing up its bank account when it receives a roughly $1.1 billion cash payment from its Haynesville joint venture partner, Plains Exploration & Production, in an amended partnership agreement. 

Given its continued strength in the industry, 97% of the 6,811 CAPS members rating Chesapeake expect it to outperform the market.

Pedal to the metal
Alcoa has logged some healthy gains since leading off earnings season with better-than-expected results last month. The company posted a tighter loss than analysts’ consensus as the company has been cutting costs to offset weaker demand. And though there are still challenges ahead as demand in global metals markets recover, Alcoa also been using the downturn to invest in markets it thinks will recover faster than others. It recently completed a factory expansion in Russia to produce beverage cans, purchased an aerospace supplies business in Morocco, and acquired some intellectual property rights on welded-aluminum products from offshore drilling contractor Noble (NYSE:NE) to take advantage of opportunity it sees in the oil and gas market.

Despite a near-term outlook that many concede is highly uncertain, a good majority of CAPS members expect Alcoa to remain a solid company and generate strong performance in the long term, with 93% of the 2,666 rating the company expecting it to outpace the broader market.

And you?
What's your story? Whether you buy the tale of a stock that's soaring or souring, your own research is more important than collective opinions. But these collective opinions can make your due diligence a whole lot easier.

Add your take on these or any of the 5,300 stocks that our 135,000-plus members have covered in Motley Fool CAPS. It's totally free to be a part of the community, and the payback is more than worth it.

The Motley Fool Inside Value team looks for beaten-down stocks that are selling at bargain prices well below their intrinsic value. To see the full list of cheap companies the service is recommending today, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock has his own story, but there's no "happily ever after" at the end of it. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy and XTO Energy. The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.