As Warren Buffett proved, buying and holding is the key to great investing. But how do you know you're not holding onto a loser? Aside from glancing at an earnings release, the only information many investors get about a stock comes from its price. It's tough to separate good companies from bad on such scant evidence -- but it's vitally important. Finding well-run companies at bargain-basement prices is a great way to accumulate a fortune over the long run.

With that in mind, we Fools have whipped up an easy tool to help you see how your company is doing. We can harness the aggregate intelligence of the 135,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS to see what the community is thinking about a company today, and how they felt about it last quarter. A change in the community's approval (signified by four- and five-star ratings) or disapproval (one- and two-star ratings) could indicate that further research is in order.

Here are the CAPS community's aggregate feelings on Heinz (NYSE:HNZ), and their opinions on some related companies, from today and last quarter.

Metric

Heinz

ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG)

Cal-Maine Foods (NASDAQ:CALM)

Kellogg (NYSE:K)

This Quarter (8/24/09):

       

Price:

$39.03

$20.21

$29.19

$47.35

% of Members Rating Outperform

93.2%

89.2%

95.1%

91.5%

% of All-Star Members Rating Outperform

95.2%

92.4%

97.6%

93.2%

CAPS Rating

****

****

****

****

Last Quarter (6/17/09):

       

Price:

$36.07

$18.51

$24.26

$44.22

% of Members Rating Outperform

92.8%

88.7%

95.3%

91.4%

% of All-Star Members Rating Outperform

95.2%

93.1%

96.3%

93.8%

CAPS Rating

****

****

*****

****

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Dates given are the posting dates of Heinz's most recent quarterly and/or annual reports to the SEC's website. Percentages are calculated from the number of members rating each company.

It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. 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. Head over to the completely free CAPS service, and let us hear what you've got to say about these or any other stocks that might be up-and-comers.

Disclosure is important to us here at The Motley Fool. The stocks mentioned in this article received their CAPS ratings from participants in the Motley Fool's CAPS service. No individual person selected the stocks in this article, so there is no author to disclose an interest in them. Since this article was automatically generated by identifying the stocks rated by the CAPS community and by buyers in today's market, it is possible that Motley Fool personnel (and even The Motley Fool itself, through our Million Dollar Portfolio, Motley Fool Pro, and Ready Made Millionaire services), have positions in these stocks. Our lawyers make us put all this at the bottom of this article. You can learn more about the Motley Fool's disclosure policy here.