True penny stocks are a minefield, but small-cap copper beauties can be one way to easily double your money.

There are also those companies whose shares trade at the other end of the price spectrum. I call 'em "three-digit stocks," though if they're anything like Berkshire Hathaway, they can trade in the four-, five-, and six-digit range, too.

Just as a penny stock might not be a good buy simply because it's cheap, a three-digit stock shouldn't scare you away just because it carries a hefty price tag. Handsome is as handsome does, so we check in with the Motley Fool CAPS community to see which ones the investor-intelligence database sees as having the best chance of succeeding.

Below are a handful of these high-priced highfliers, and we'll take a look to see if investors think they can maintain their lofty valuations.


3-Digit Price

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Return on Capital, TTM





First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR)




National Western Life Insurance (NASDAQ:NWLI)








Washington Post (NYSE:WPO)




Sources: CAPS and Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Highfalutin' honeys
It's hard to imagine a more opportunistic development: One of the world’s hottest smartphones is going to be released into the world's biggest market. Apple has scaled the Great Wall and will offer its iPhone in a multiyear deal with Chinese wireless carrier China Unicom (NYSE:CHU).

The iPhone 3GS was only released in June, but sales have been blistering, catapulting Apple from a 2.8 share in the second quarter of 2008 to a 13.3 share this year, according to the research analysts at Gartner. The company sold more than 5.4 million iPhones in the quarter and over 1 million in just the first weekend. With 18.4 million smartphones sold in the same period, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) may be top dog (it owns 45% of the market), but its newest smartphone edition -- the N97 -- has only sold around half a million handsets since its own June launch.

The median analyst estimate of earnings growth for Apple this year is in excess of 36%, with almost 19% expected over the next five. How much they'll need to dial up that number in light of the China Unicom agreement remains to be seen, but noting that Apple is more "than just a company, it’s a culture," CAPS member louiswilliams says the innovative brand looks like a can't-miss proposition:

They don't seem to miss a beat. Strong product line, and an excellent supply chain, combined with their pricing strategy allows them to maximize profitability. Itunes and the app store has created a competitive advantage that other vendors can't match.

Great balls of fire
Thin-film solar module leader First Solar has been almost as hot. The company’s operating earnings grew a scorching 130% year over year. Analysts missed the upswing and haven't been able to see the sun shining on the industry because they've been pointing out all the clouds instead.

Tight credit markets, inventory oversupply, falling commodity costs, slack demand, and spotty government incentives are indeed concerns for the industry. But the trend is toward higher usage rates for alternative energy, which means we'll see more deals like the one First Solar signed with Southern California Energy to build a 550-megawatt facility by 2015. The state has implemented goals of generating 20% of its electricity needs from alternative sources by next year and is contemplating upping that to 30% by 2020.

When all is said and done, CAPS member theinfamoushw thinks First Solar's lower-cost thin-film technology makes it a winner:

Though the recession has knocked down the price of polysilicon, the long term increased manufacture of solar cells will raise it back up. Despite the lower price for polysilicon, first solar was still profitable and green stimulus funds around the world should increase their orders.

Count to 10
These three-digit stocks might be on their way to even higher valuations. That's why it pays to start your own research in 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.

Want help finding your own three-digit darlings? Join Fool co-founders David and Tom Gardner at Motley Fool Stock Advisor as they search the market for stocks enjoying not only a triple-digit price tag, but the potential to double, triple, and even quadruple in value over time.

Click here to join Stock Advisor free for 30 days and get immediate access to all of David and Tom's proprietary research. There is no obligation to subscribe. Already a subscriber? Log in at the top of this page.

First Solar is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Berkshire Hathaway and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and SPDRs. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.

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