Whether it's the corporate lunchroom, your cubicle, or the local watering hole after work, there are regular places we gather to discuss news, sports or -- if you're like us -- stocks. Here at Motley Fool CAPS, we gather around the virtual water cooler daily to rate stocks and delve into their merits as investments.

Our 140,000-strong CAPS community, where members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to some 5,300 stocks, seeks businesses that it thinks will outperform the market. Below we'll look at some of the most popular and talked-about stocks in the CAPS universe, and we'll examine whether you think they'll continue their winning ways.

Stock

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

No. of Calls

% Outperform Calls

China Natural Gas (NASDAQ:CHNG)

*****

1327

97%

Coeur D'Alene Mines (NYSE:CDE)

****

1273

95%

Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE)

*

1243

62%

inVentiv Health (NASDAQ:VTIV)

*****

1312

98%

Mahindra Satyam (NYSE:SAY)

****

1313

96%

A tall drink of water
Timing is everything, they say, and silver miner Coeur D'Alene Mines decided to become the turnaround story to talk about at just the right time. With gold still going strong and still looking cheap even at these lofty heights -- one asset manager says gold would need to breach $2,000 an ounce to rise to the same inflation-adjusted levels it hit in the 1980s -- the prospects that silver will make equally robust moves through the slingshot effect remain high.

Couer D'Alene's own Kensington gold mine is on track to begin production by the second half of 2010, now that all the legal wrangling is behind it, and its silver mining operations are expanding apace as well. It plans to add as many as 200 jobs to its Rochester gold and silver mine in Nevada, by boosting production there by an average of 2.9 million ounces of silver and 30,000 ounces of gold annually through 2017. That will allow it to approach production levels of fellow silver plays Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) and Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS).

CAPS member mitleg points to a timely restructuring that should help the company capitalize on these opportunities:

Silver play with some growth prospects. New silver production recently online. New gold mine to produce next year. They went through a restructuring to reduce debt, bring new production, and dramatically grow production. Should pay off soon.

Mortgage our future
Despite all the wishing, hoping, praying, and jawboning of the market, one area not improving all that much is mortgage lending. Foreclosures still rose by 5% between the summer and fall months, even after the massive infusion of cash into the housing market, and despite the FHA's actions to pump inordinate amounts of liquidity into the mortgage market to help Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae refinance loans for consumers. Since many private lenders have turned off the spigot of easy money, the government has gotten into the act and is the one now allowing potentially more risky mortgages to be handed out.

According to Inside Mortgage Finance, between Fannie, Freddie, and the FHA, it's estimated that the taxpayer is now on the hook for 80% of all new residential mortgages written this year. Since the FHA's default and foreclosure rates are climbing to what hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson calls "cataclysmic" levels, it's widely anticipated that we'll be called on to bail out this entity, too. However, Tilson notes that he supports the government intervention because of the near freeze on private mortgage lending.

Highly rated CAPS All-Start member UltraLong thinks that even after the massive infusion of cash into the housing market, it's only a matter of time before Freddie Mac gives up the ghost itself:

There is no intrinsic value in this company other than the name. They are 50 billion dollars in the hole at minimum to the government, they continue to lose billions each quarter and their rate of borrowing hasn't slowed. Every possible avenue they face requires them to either liquidate at steep losses or refrain from ever becoming a private entity again. There is no cinderella outcome here ... this is a pumpkin and its about time it gets carved up.

Gather 'round
With so many good opinions about today's top companies, why not grab a pointy paper cup from the dispenser and join us at the Motley Fool CAPS watercooler? Your input can help guide other investors to stocks with bright prospects for growth. 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.

Sign up today for the completely free service, and let us hear what you have to say about the great and almost-great companies that interest you.

inVentiv Health is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation and a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. The Fool owns shares of inVentiv Health. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services  free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.