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 XTO Energy shot up 15% after it was announced that ExxonMobil would buy XTO in an all-stock deal.

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 145,000 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

NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

****

30.4%

New York Community Bancorp (NYSE:NYB)

****

27.4%

MannKind (NASDAQ:MNKD)

**

35.2%

Advanced Micro Devices

**

30.2%

Interoil

*

38.8%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return from Nov. 20 through Dec. 18.

NVIDIA
More cards have been falling in NVIDIA's favor recently, providing new optimism for investors and hence some upward momentum for shares. Late last month, it scored an early win with the U.S. Patent Office in its patent dispute with Rambus (NASDAQ:RMBS). Even though the Patent Office's finding is not the final say in the matter, investors are more optimistic about the forthcoming ruling from the International Trade Commission due in January.

Investors in NVIDIA and AMD also breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) would be placing its plans on hold to launch its Larrabee discrete graphics chip, which could have stepped on NVIDIA's and AMD's turf and potentially cut into a some of their revenues. Those investors cheered even further when the Federal Trade Commission piled on and announced a suit against Intel, which could also have positive implications for NVIDIA, depending on the outcome. With the recent developments tilting the odds more in NVIDIA's favor, many CAPS members are bullish on the stock, and nearly 96% of the 4,529 members rating it expect the stock to outperform the broader market.

New York Community Bancorp
More investors have been taking a liking to New York Community Bancorp lately, a bank that, like Hudson City Bancorp (NASDAQ:HCBK), stayed away from the government bailout frenzy. While Citigroup (NYSE:C) and remaining TARP recipients are busy looking for the nearest exit out of the program, New York Community has been busy acquiring the assets of fallen AmTrust Bank from the FDIC and selling shares to boost its capital levels. The regulator-backed acquisition includes a loss-sharing agreement, providing lower risk for New York Community. It also has a positive effect on earnings, boosts its balance sheet, and expands its reach into new markets.

CAPS members have applauded the shrewdness of the deal and many investors like that it secures the company's dividend and boosts deposits. As such, 92% of the 213 CAPS members rating New York Community Bancorp are bullish.

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 145,000-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 52 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 NVIDIA and Intel. NVIDIA is a Stock Advisor pick. Intel is an Inside Value selection. Motley Fool Options recommended covered calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of XTO. The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.