At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we were doing.

But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We'll also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we track the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best ...
If you invest in cell-phone makers, or the companies that help them do their dialing, then you're going to want to hear what Credit Suisse (CS) had to say about the sector this morning. Tweaking its ratings across the sector, the Swiss banking superpower:

  • Upgraded shares of Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Motorola (NYSE:MOT) to "outperform" (read: "buy").
  • Downgraded upstream players Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) to neutral, and knocked Nokia (NYSE:NOK) for a loop, dropping the stock all the way from outperform to underperform -- from "buy" to "sell" in under 60 seconds.
  • For good measure, CS then upped its target price for already recommended Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to $200.

Should I care?
Well, sure. Firstly, because when an ace stock picker like Credit Suisse upgrades (or downgrades) a stock, it can move markets in a hurry. But more importantly, because haste makes waste. Traders who react to CS' latest equity ramblings without thinking may make mistakes -- and hand you an opportunity to pick up unfairly maligned stocks at a discount, or cash in on a stock that just got an undeserved bump.

After all, Credit Suisse has the reputation of a superb stock picker, ranking in the top 10% of investors tracked by CAPS. Problem is, within any investment bank of CS' size, not all analysts are created equal. And within Credit Suisse in particular, the folks responsible for picking telecom stocks have a checkered past. Alongside winning picks such as ...

Stock

CS Says:

CAPS Says:

CS' Picks Beating S&P by:

Palm (NASDAQ:PALM)

Outperform

*

25 points

Qualcomm

Outperform

***

38 points

Apple

Outperform

***

104 points

... CS' telecom stock jocks have also recommended that you buy:

Stock

CS Says:

CAPS Says:

CS' Picks Lagging S&P by:

Nokia

Outperform

****

12 points

Alcatel

Outperform

**

40 points

Motorola

Outperform

**

40 points

What it works out to is this: Credit Suisse is pretty good recommending stocks broadly classed as belonging to the Computers and Peripherals sector. But the more you emphasize the phone part of a smartphone maker, the worse CS gets; its record for accuracy on pure-play communications equipment stocks is a lackluster 43%.

With that said  ...
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Credit Suisse isn't right about any of these stocks. In fact, even the ones I'm least enthusiastic about -- Research In Motion, Palm, and Motorola -- could go plenty higher.

My reservations over the lack of profits at Motorola and Palm notwithstanding, both stocks have rallied hard in recent months on little more than dreams of a brighter future. (Sometimes, it's just better to be lucky than smart. Or profitable.) And I actually agree with CS on the limited prospects for profit with Nokia and Qualcomm trading at their current levels.

But the one stock I agree most about is Apple. Selling for a P/E of 30, you might think this one is as overpriced as any stock on the market today. But as I described last month, the P/E doesn't tell the whole story at Apple. With $24 billion worth of cash in the bank, and free cash flow that outruns its reported "net earnings" by a factor of two, Apple sells for an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio of just 12.5 -- cheap considering the company's growth prospects.

Foolish takeaway
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Apple's a winner.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Nokia. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating about stuff he does understand under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 509 out of more than 140,000 members. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.