Editor's note: In a previous version of this article, Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) was mistakenly included. The four-week price change data did not take into account the spin-off of CareFusion, without which the stock's price change would not have been so large. The Fool regrets the error.

Individual stocks can surge 10%, 25%, or even higher in a short period of time. And they can fall just as far, just as quickly. For example, shares of Amedisys fell nearly 22% after the startling notice that two key executives, the COO and CIO, announced their immediate resignation from the company.

Big drops in share price can sometimes signal material defects or new risks. But at other times, they're simply pullbacks along with the larger pessimism facing the market today. Fortunately, we have Motley Fool CAPS, a great resource to help us understand the larger picture behind big price drops.

Is the sky falling?
CAPS contains more than just the crowd's opinions. Its best-performing members' votes count more in shaping each company's rating than do the picks of their poorer-performing peers. That way, investors can intelligently use the collective wisdom of more than 140,000 CAPS members to make better decisions.

We'll use CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly zero in on companies that have been slashed by at least 20% in the last four weeks, and which have a market cap greater than $100 million and a beta of less than 3. If you want to run this screen for yourself, please do -- just keep in mind that the results will update with the market.


CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Price Change

Jackson Hewitt (NYSE:JTX)



DHT Maritime (NYSE:DHT)



Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return Aug. 14 through Sept. 8.

Jackson Hewitt
Tax preparer Jackson Hewitt blew right past analyst expectations in its latest quarter, but the tax-prep firm still posted an adjusted loss of $0.67 a share. The company has been looking for ways to restore its declining market share, but it piled on another issue for investors to worry about: Changes in its refund programs with bank partners may force it to revisit its client pricing practices as early as the 2010 tax season.

On the bright side, tax filers will find it easier to drop into Jackson Hewitt stores inside as many as 1,750 Wal-Mart Stores in the future. In addition, the company recently brought in a seasoned former exec from rival H&R Block as CEO.

Still, CAPS members are split on the potential returns from Jackson Hewitt. Only 87% of the 238 members rating the stock expect it to outperform the market.      

DHT Maritime
Oil tanker DHT Maritime ran aground recently. The company halted its quarterly dividend as its second-quarter net income plunged more than 50%, missing expectations. Like the lower oil prices that affected earnings at integrated giants ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX), DHT has been hit with much lower spot-market charter rates compared to last summer.

Oil demand is off across several continents, and competitors like Frontline (NYSE:FRO) are also waiting for a pickup in demand. Until then, oil companies are storing a record amount of oil at sea in giant tankers. Even after the recent mashing, though, nearly 93% of the 252 CAPS members rating DHT Maritime are bullish.

Ultimately, whether or not you believe a fall in any stock is warranted, your own research is more important than collective opinions. CAPS can help you quickly focus your due diligence, and even point out potential pitfalls you may not have seen.

Add your take on these or any of the 5,300 stocks that 140,000-plus members have covered in Motley Fool CAPS. It's totally free to be a part of the community, and the payback is more than worth it.

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor service looks for companies with strong management poised to beat the market over the long haul. To see all the stocks that have helped Tom and David Gardner beat the market by 47 points on average, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock habitually looks for silver linings in even the darkest of clouds. He owns shares of ExxonMobil. McKesson is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Wal-Mart Stores is an Inside Value pick. The Fool's disclosure policy is made of sugar and spice and everything nice.