Hey there, Fools. I've summoned our Motley Fool CAPS community once again to highlight a few of Thursday's biggest winners among the stocks with top ratings of four or five stars:


Yesterday's Gain

Western Refining (NYSE:WNR)


Chicago Bridge & Iron


Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO)


E*TRADE Financial


Waste Management (NYSE:WM)


There's a reason I selected those notable gainers, as opposed to other winners making noise on Thursday, like low-rated Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG): Stocks go up all the time, but unless you were able to predict the pop, what does it matter?  

Our community of more than 140,000 CAPS Fools considers its high-star stocks the most likely to outperform the market.

Written in the (five) stars?
For example, 95.1% of the 927 members who've rated Western Refining have a bullish opinion of the stock. In late August, one of those Fools, Option1307, helped crack the bull case wide open:

Crack spreads have absolutely destroyed this company/all refiners recently. ... [In my opinion] refiners are a sure bet at these levels. They may not rise instantaneously but within a few yrs. this will be a huge winner.

Consistent with that call, shares of the oil refiner surged yesterday, after a Wall Street firm noted that several factors are indeed slowly combining to improve crack spreads.

The bullish lesson?
Learn to be long-term greedy when others are short-term fearful. Going against the herd is never easy, but if you truly believe in a company's long-run potential, major downturns can offer the very best buying opportunities. As Warren Buffett reminds us, "Only those who will be sellers of equities in the near future should be happy at seeing stocks rise. Prospective purchasers should much prefer sinking prices."

And now for the losers ...
Of course, winning isn't everything in the stock market.Here are five of Thursday's biggest decliners with one- or two-star ratings:   


Yesterday's Loss

McClatchy (NYSE:MNI)


Las Vegas Sands


Citigroup (NYSE:C)


Canadian Solar




While yesterday's drop in highly rated Nokia (NYSE:NOK) may have caught our community off-guard, low-ranked stocks are fully expected to fall hard.

Did CAPS call the fall?
Late last month, for instance, CAPS member DarthMaul09 filled Fools in on McClatchy's pressing concerns:

They have cut staff and other overhead as much as they can. … The question remains, can they generate enough revenue to keep operations running, especially if the economy does not pick up right away? I don't know, but why try to invest in a company with limited upside potential and the real potential for bankruptcy?

In line with that warning, shares of the newspaper publisher plunged yesterday. McClatchy posted a third-quarter revenue decline of 23%, as advertising sales continued their dismal downward trend.

The bearish takeaway?
Always make sure the (business) trend is your friend. For market-beating returns, it's crucial that you position your portfolio to take advantage of massive shifts in commerce, rather than struggle against where the world is headed. In Wayne Gretzky's words, "Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it's been."

The final Foolish move
Investors often focus strictly on stock price movements, without realizing that developing a proper stock-picking process counts most.

Over at Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are Foolishly sharing insightful investment tips to help identify tomorrow's big movers. Over time, consistently reverse-engineering winning -- and losing -- stocks will help you become a more Foolish investor.

Log in to CAPS today and start participating. It's absolutely free -- and a lot of fun!

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Chicago Bridge is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick, and Nokia is a choice of Inside Value. The Fool's disclosure policy is always the big winner.