No one has perfect foresight, but let's be honest: The market is full of people who, as Oscar Wilde would say, know "the price of everything and the value of nothing." Far too often -- over the past year especially -- investors have been pitched sensational stock recommendations only to be left high and dry as shares crumble.

To hunt down top-recommended stocks that have been rewarding investors accordingly, I summoned our Motley Fool CAPS community to point out a few four- or five-star stocks that have been shootin' for the moon in recent months.

While not formal buy recommendations, these three-month bloomers caught my attention:


13-Week Price Change

Recent Share Price

Forward P/E Ratio

CAPS Rating  
(out of 5)






Fluor (NYSE:FLR)





Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG)





Northgate Minerals (NYSE:NXG)





Travelers Companies (NYSE:TRV)





Data from Motley Fool CAPS and Yahoo! Finance as of Aug. 10. P/E = price-to-earnings.

You can rerun the CAPS screen I used by clicking here.

A closer look at Fluor
Several bubbles popped in 2008: Housing. Banking. The leveraged consumer. Derivatives. Lenny Dykstra. We all know the names.

But the biggest -- at least measured by peak-to-trough declines -- might be oil. From its peak in July 2008 to this past December, the price of the black goo fell nearly 80%. For comparison, that's a bigger drop than Citigroup (NYSE:C) suffered during the same period.

Yet total trauma hasn't struck everyone in the energy world. One company with a heavy presence in the oil and gas sector has actually proved quite resilient over the past year: Fluor.

While Fluor is an engineering and construction management company, it gains the majority of its business through oil & gas projects. Nonetheless, it's probably more diverse than many assume. In the most recent quarter, here's how profits per segment break out:


Q2 2009 Profits

Oil & Gas

$181 million

Industrial & Infrastructure

$34 million


$34 million

Global Services

$34 million


$27 million

That diversity -- plus the indirect nature of its oil & gas business -- has kept profits flowing throughout the past year. In the most recent quarter, Fluor reported net income that was actually substantially higher than the year-ago period, after adjusting for one-time gains. How many other companies can say that?

It also holds great geographic diversity. At the end of last year, its backlog of business was split almost evenly between domestic and international contracts:


Percent of Backlog*

United States


Asia Pacific


Europe, Africa, Middle East


The Americas


*As of Dec. 31, 2008.

Want more? How about a bulletproof balance sheet? With more $11 per share in cash and a near-insignificant amount of long-term debt, Fluor is about as well-capitalized as you can ask for.

Add it all up, and our CAPS community gives Fluor a perfect five-star rating. As CAPS member stk1185 writes:

Great company - solid management, pristine balance sheet, a huge backlog of projects that can keep them busy for years, and more infrastructure projects to come once the stimulus money really starts flowing. Also was recently awarded a huge $3 billion contract for military support services in Afghanistan, and beat out former favorite for Afghanistan contractor [KBR (NYSE:KBR)] for the deal.

Furthermore, the long-term transition from traditional to alternative forms of energy sets Fluor up to prosper. As CAPS member nbjorn writes:

[Fluor] has a robust backlog of work in its pipeline and is sitting on piles of cash. They have the know how to build out alternative energy projects and are well positioned to capitalize on any energy infrastructure changes that the US will need in the future. I expect this stock to hold its own in the market till we see expansion in the world economy again at which time it should outperform rather nicely.

Your turn to chime in                                                                                                          
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Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Intuitive Surgical is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.