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.

While 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. 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*

Arden Group




Markel (NYSE:MKL)




Precision Castparts (NYSE:PCP)




Seaboard (NYSE:SEB)




Westpac Banking




Sources: CAPS and Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. *TTM = trailing 12 months.

Highfalutin' honeys
After touching a 52-week high last week, Precision Castparts has pulled back a couple of dollars, but it has still had a heady run, up nearly 70% year-to-date. With a large part of its business represented by aerospace and energy, it might stumble in the near term, but Precision Castparts looks like a long-term winner.

One of its biggest customers is General Electric (NYSE:GE), accounting for almost 12% of its revenues in 2008, and it considers Boeing (NYSE:BA) a top-flight client, too. Yet much of Precision's sales to GE are in turn sold to Boeing (and to Airbus), so if the airplane manufacturer continues to stumble, the impact is going to be felt all the way down to its suppliers.

Boeing is under pressure from competitors trying to steal government contracts, while its commercial aviation segment has suffered from a series of blunders surrounding its Dreamliner super jumbo jet. It's got customers galore lining up for its plane, but some are getting tired of waiting for the never-ending delays to conclude. With more than half of Precision's revenues coming from the aerospace sector, this could increase the market's worries.

It can't be said that Precision's power generation markets are faring much better these days, either, and those customers accounted for another 25% of its sales so far this year. They've been experiencing weaker demand as the recession wears away at business energy needs.

With all that as the backdrop for Precision Castparts, investors are surprisingly unconcerned about the possibility of any major interruptions for the company in the near future. Highly rated CAPS All-Star terpgrad finds the company’s multitude of customer contracts supports its valuation. In addition to Boeing and GE, Precision also counts United Technologies' (NYSE:UTX) Pratt & Whitney division and Rolls-Royce as key customers. terpgrad writes:

This is an extremely well run company, a leader in specialized parts for aerospace, great relationships w. customers. lots of cash, min debt. not a flash in the pan but a long-term winner, top drawer company.

A pig in a poke
Fears of swine flu swept China earlier this year, and while pork products were the main victim -- imports from the U.S. were banned, and 22% of Chinese surveyed said they still believe the virus can be transmitted by eating the meat (even though it's not spread that way) -- trade disputes between the two countries might also spill over into meat products.

A U.S. ban on Chinese poultry, for example, has caused industry trade groups to fear retaliation overseas. China recently stopped issuing import permits for chicken from the U.S., threatening a $700-million-a-year business. Last month, China banned the import of meats from Seaboard and Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD), but didn't give a reason.

Seaboard saw profits rise 28% from a year ago as feed costs ameliorated this quarter, but the company also runs a strange amalgam of businesses. In addition to hog production and processing operations, it also runs an international commodity trading and milling division, provides containerized cargo shipping services, refines sugar cane, and operates an independent power company in the Dominican Republic.

As CAPS member athenamike correctly characterized Seaboard earlier this year as a smorgasbord of businesses "that don't seem to generate much synergy," even as he finds the management team commendable.

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.

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Berkshire Hathaway and Precision Castparts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Berkshire Hathaway and Markel are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Markel. 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.