Even on the market's worst days, buyout news and other short-term forces can send individual stocks up by 10%, 25%, even 50%.        

For example, shares of Starent Networks jumped 17% when it was announced that Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) had gone on another buying binge and offered $2.9 billion in cash for the company.

But beyond less-predictable events like that one are stocks with fundamentally compelling reasons for recent momentum. The trick is to find those stocks. That's where Motley Fool CAPS comes in.

The story behind the story
CAPS is no crowd of lemmings. Its best-performing members' opinions do more to shape each company's rating than the picks of their poorer-performing peers. Let's use the collective wisdom of more than 140,000 CAPS members to filter out the noise and find companies offering strong momentum.

We'll use CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly zero in on companies with a stock price increase of at least 25% in the past four weeks, a market cap of greater than $100 million, and a beta of less than 3. Below is a sample of stocks that our screen returned. If you'd like, run this screen yourself -- just keep in mind that results may change as the market does.

Company

CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

4-Week
Price Change

KV Pharmaceutical

*****

47.1%

Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN)

*****

37.9%

Headwaters

****

28.7%

Alpha Pro Tech (AMEX:APT)

**

28.6%

American Greetings

*

48.9%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return from Sept. 18 through Oct. 16.

Focus Media
It looks like digital advertising company Focus Media will end up keeping operations that generate more than half its revenue and a large chunk of its profits. SINA's (NASDAQ:SINA) proposed acquisition of Focus Media's digital media assets from last December couldn't make it past the regulators. Focus Media shares have been working their way higher in recent months, and the operations that would have gone to SINA have improved -- while down from last year, its second-quarter revenue from discontinued operations grew 39% from the first quarter and swung to a profit compared with last year. And its other businesses generated 23% higher revenue compared with the first quarter. Many CAPS members are happy the company's keeping its strong network of advertising assets and see solid potential. The company's CEO recently doubled his stake in the company. In CAPS, 97% of the 1,188 members rating Focus Media expect it to outperform the market.

Alpha Pro Tech
Naturally, the swine flu frenzy draws attention to vaccine producers like Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX). Investors are also increasingly interested in companies that make protective apparel and infection control products, like Alpha Pro Tech. At Alpha Pro Tech, production is going 'round the clock seven days a week to keep up with demand for its N95 respirator masks, while other N95 makers like 3M (NYSE:MMM) and Kimberly-Clark are also investing to keep up with demand. The N95 filters out 95% of airborne particles when worn properly and is recommended for health professionals working with patients.

Alpha Pro Tech's sales increased 63% in the second quarter, helped by record quarterly sales in the building supply business. The company sees growth opportunities in that business, which will help when the swine flu commotion fades. But the micro-cap company has a relatively small following in CAPS and earns just a two-star rating. Today, 37 of the 41 CAPS members rating Alpha Pro Tech expect it to beat the broader market.

And you?
What's your story? Whether you buy the tale of a stock that's soaring or souring, your own research is more important than collective opinions. But these collective opinions can make your due diligence a whole lot easier.

Add your take on these or any of the 5,300 stocks that our 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 50 percentage points on average, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock has his own story, but there's no "happily ever after" at the end of it. He owns shares of 3M in a dividend reinvestment plan. Focus Media Holding is a Rule Breakers pick, SINA is a Stock Advisor recommendation, and 3M is an Inside Value selection. The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.