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 Harvest Energy Trust (NYSE:HTE) jumped by 33% when Korea National Oil Corp. said it would buy the company for $1.7 billion.

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^

McMoRan Exploration

*****

28.0%

Oilsands Quest

****

36.4%

Cree (NASDAQ:CREE)

***

27.0%

Moody's (NYSE:MCO)

**

32.8%

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN)

**

30.9%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.
^ Sept. 25 through Oct. 23.

Cree
A technology company that is bucking virtually all the bad economic trends is LED maker Cree. The company has been blazing a trail of continued growth as more applications adopt the use of light-emitting diodes. Its fiscal-first-quarter financials handily beat earnings and revenue estimates, and it's looking to follow up with a strong second quarter.

Cree will be expanding its workforce over the next several years as it increases production of energy-efficient LEDs that are expected to penetrate multiple markets in the years ahead, including computer monitors, commercial applications, and municipal lighting systems. Cree looks to raise awareness with its installation support of a North Carolina McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) that recently opened with 97% use of LEDs. But while the growth story remains an exciting one, shares are commanding a premium valuation at a forward multiple of 39.

Pricey shares aside, 92% of the 820 CAPS members rating Cree expect it to outperform the market.

Amazon.com
After posting better-than-expected third-quarter results, Amazon's shares hit a split-adjusted all-time high on Friday, and multiple analysts rushed to upgrade the stock and raise price targets. Net sales jumped 28%, and good control of operating expenses helped earnings skyrocket 68% to $0.45 a share.

Customers have been flocking to Amazon's Marketplace to score deals on its wide range of products; it ended the quarter with 98 million active customer accounts, up 17% from last year. And the money it collects from third-party merchants selling items on its site now accounts for about 31% of its sales. Adding icing to the cake, Amazon predicted more than 20% growth in the current quarter.

Although Amazon said that the Kindle is its best-selling product -- without providing sales details -- the e-book reader faces increasing competition from similar devices from Barnes & Noble and Sony (NYSE:SNE). Many CAPS members believe Amazon's established marketplace and brand value will stand strong against increasing price wars and competition from the likes of Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) walmart.com, but the company's hefty valuation has many investors sitting on the sidelines.

In CAPS, a lackluster 73% of the 4,113 members rating Amazon.com see it beating the broader market in the future.

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 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 no shares of companies mentioned here. Apple, Amazon.com, and Moody's are Stock Advisor selections. Moody's and Wal-Mart Stores are Inside Value picks. The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.