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After spending the past year at a subpar two-star rank, enough top-performing CAPS members have turned bullish on MetLife (NYSE:MET) recently to upgrade it to a more formidable three stars. A total of 699 members have given their opinion on MetLife, with many offering analysis and commentary to explain their recent optimism.

MetLife isn't alone -- insurers like Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B), Prudential (NYSE:PRU), and Aflac and financial companies like ING (NYSE:ING) all suffered huge blows from the financial crisis. MetLife has also had its share of losses in its investment portfolio on what were thought to be solid investments. But during a tough year in 2009, the company managed to gain market share and even grow revenue. It is also starting to see improvements in its investment portfolio, where losses continue to decline.

MetLife reported an 18% jump in third-quarter operating earnings in October and, like Hartford Financial (NYSE:HIG), is looking for improvement in the fourth quarter. It recently guided for a big jump in fourth-quarter operating earnings over the year before, and many investors are bullish about the expected huge leap in operating earnings in 2010, which is forecast to grow by 50% due to higher fees and premiums.

While companies like Citigroup (NYSE:C) and AIG (NYSE:AIG) have been working to sell off assets, MetLife says it's in a good position to take advantage of acquisitions and some CAPS members think the company will be able to use its size to its advantage. One possibility is the purchase of AIG's Alico life insurance unit that could provide big growth potential in Japan.

Do you think MetLife deserves its raised status? Add your thoughts in the comments box below on this page, or head over to CAPS to rate the company and check out all the information and opinions the community offers, absolutely free.

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Thankfully, Fool contributor Dave Mock recently upgraded his running shoes with some odor-eaters. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Berkshire Hathaway is an Inside Value pick. Berkshire Hathaway is a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Fool's disclosure policy can tell you all the best shave ice locations in Hawaii.