When a stock's share price is lower than the reading on a North Dakota thermometer in February, investors tend to give that stock the cold shoulder. But as the market warms to a stock's prospects, its price can heat up in a hurry. Alas, you can rarely tell that a stock is melting investors' hearts until after it has made that leap up.

Taking the market's temperature
But Motley Fool CAPS' proprietary ratings, aggregated from the opinions and accuracy of 140,000 members, offer a great way to monitor investor sentiment. Following a CAPS rating trend can help us determine the best time to invest. Let's look at companies that had been rated one or two stars and recently enjoyed a bump in investor confidence to see whether they're truly heating up -- or headed back to the deep freeze.

Company

CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

Recent Price

EPS Estimates (Next Year-Year After)

GT Solar (NASDAQ:SOLR)

***

$5.05

$0.53 - $0.58

MetLife (NYSE:MET)

***

$38.32

$2.73 - $3.99

MetroPCS Communications (NYSE:PCS)

***

$8.00

$0.44 - $0.76

People's United Financial

***

$16.24

$0.31 - $0.39

ProLogis (NYSE:PLD)

***

$10.74

$1.44 - $0.82

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

Obviously, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- just a starting point for further research. Yet if some of the best investing minds are taking notice of these stocks, maybe we should, too. 

Caution: Contents may be hot
Suffering from tight credit markets, oversupply, and falling prices, the solar sector hasn't been a bright spot lately. Yet industry subsidies from governments here and abroad might be enough to get solar stocks like GT Solar going again. The company reported a 51% jump in profits for its latest quarter (though it missed analyst estimates by a penny), and management contends it will meet its previously issued guidance for the year, pegged at $0.45 to $0.60 a share. Analysts' numbers have fallen into the middle of that range.

Solar stocks have been turning in better numbers recently, with First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) reporting that operating income rose 130% in the latest quarter and Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) saying module shipments were particularly strong.

What might not be so hot is the huge offering GT Solar registered recently to sell up to 106 million shares, equivalent to nearly three-quarters of its shares outstanding. That could become a huge drag on GT Solar's stock performance.

But CAPS member 21popsontop thinks GT Solar's market-lagging performance will be a thing of the past:

These kind of markets bring about fear and bargains. Solar has taken a nice run in 09 leaving this one behind. Stock price in the pennies. ROE 92.75 Net profit margin 16.10% 5 year sales growth 124% 1st quarter profit up 51% on higher revenue which rose 26%. Worth a peak of research.

Promises, promises
If American International Group (NYSE:AIG) can return to its former glory, then there shouldn't be much stopping MetLife, too. Government-owned AIG says it plans to pay back the loans it borrowed from taxpayers by selling off various businesses, but repairing MetLife's position shouldn't require such drastic action.

CAPS All-Star ValueMc writes that so long as the insurer didn't go overboard, it should be able to successfully hit the reset button: "The repricing of assets now that the markets have stabilized could actually result in mark ups over the next year now assuming this company didn't overhedge. Technically it also appears to be setting up to go a little higher."

The next domino?
Many expect commercial real estate to come undone over the next few years, which would mean real estate investment trusts like ProLogis might wind up on shaky ground. This on the heels of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reporting that the number of "problem banks" rose in the second quarter. Are the foundations cracking already?

CAPS All-Star TSIF says there are some scary aspects about the property owner, but the risk-reward ratio remains skewed to reward: "ProLogis continues to rework it's massive debt, sell [off] some assets, and return to financial stability. Their holdings are mostly in very key hub locations in the world, relatively new, and generate consistent income from top tier companies that value a stable, modern warehouse hub."

Shine your starlight
So are these stocks driving ahead or ready to crash? It pays to start your research 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. Then weigh in with your own thoughts. It's free to sign up and post your thoughts, so why not take your star turn?

First Solar is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.