Whether in 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 watercooler daily to rate stocks and delve into their merits as investments.

In our 145,000-strong CAPS community, members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to more than 5,300 stocks, seeking businesses they think will outperform the market. Below, we'll take a look at some of the most popular and talked-about stocks in CAPS, and examine whether you think they'll continue their winning ways.


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Number of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF)












Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL)




Western Refining (NYSE:WNR)




A tall drink of water
Considering the tariff cuts implemented in Spain, Germany, and France, Italy probably will follow suit when it updates its solar plans in a few weeks. Not doing so would put it at variance with the biggest European solar markets, which must be a concern for all solar players, including Trina Solar and Solarfun Power Holdings (NASDAQ:SOLF).

While the CAPS solar power sector is off just 5% for the past month, the drops over the past few weeks are much steeper. Trina is down 25% from its recent highs, Solarfun is down 29%, and Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) is off 31%. The expectations for higher sales may not be as robust as once thought.

If nothing else, though, hope springs eternal among solar investors, and CAPS member SpiffGriff says Trina is his top pick:

This is one of my top plays for solar at the moment. They have massive levels of momentum, constantly outperform estimates, positive company guidance, and have demonstrated the ability to increase their gross profit margins over the last year. Even after a 5 month gain of over 100% this stock is still trading at a PEG of .4!

Drowning in oil
Oil refineries are also scrambling to hold on to what they once had, and as demand has slumped amid the recession, they're closing down some operations. Western Refining and Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO) were among a handful of refineries reporting late last year the need to rein in costs. Valero reported that one refinery in particular had lost $1 million a day.

Investors remain bullish on the opportunity Western represents, though, with 96% of the 1,100 CAPS members rating it believing it will outperform the market averages. CAPS member cec76 reflected that sentiment last month when noting its low valuation:

Refining is struggling in this current market, but this [stock's] valuation is too good to dismiss...short play is not wise, but WNR seems to have met a solid resistance level of 4.5ish and will only grow in the next 6-12 months as demand for oil slowly returns. 

Getting static
Everyone's feeling nervous about what the immediate future holds, particularly in light of China's threats to aggressively tamp down demand by tightening lending standards. Mining stocks were rattled, particularly Cliffs Natural Resources, which mines iron and metallurgical coal in the U.S., South America, and Australia. It realized 21% of its 2008 revenues from China.

So far, that hasn't rattled the CAPS community; 96% of the members who've rated the miner still believe it will beat the market. You can add your vote to those of the nearly 1,100 CAPS members at the Cliffs Natural Resources CAPS page.

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 water cooler? Your input can help guide other investors to stocks with bright prospects. 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.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. IMAX is a Rule Breakers recommendation. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.