Whether it's 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 water cooler daily to rate stocks and delve into their merits as investments.

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


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

No. of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Apollo Investment (NASDAQ:AINV)




CF Industries (NYSE:CF)




Jacobs Engineering (NYSE:JEC)




Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (NYSE:KMP)




Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU)




A tall drink of water
The soap opera-worthy love triangle between CF Industries, Agrium, and Terra Industries (NYSE:TRA) was just a presage to the consolidation under way in fertilizers. While CF abandoned its pursuit of Terra, Agrium maintained its ardor for CF.

As fellow Fool Toby Shute noted, Vale's (NYSE:VALE) pursuit of the Brazilian fertilizer assets of Bunge demonstrates the attractiveness of CF's nitrogen and phosphate businesses. The fundamentals of the industry remain a fertile ground for sowing profits. The importance of expanding yield from crops to feed a hungry world is not diminishing anytime soon, and the need for regular applications of fertilizer to grow those crops is a constant.

Farmers cut back on outlays last year, wilting profits of agriculture stocks everywhere, but that can only go on so long. Like the companies that had to restock in the fourth quarter after depleting their inventories for too long, farmers will also need to replenish their silos. Look for the fertilizer companies to sprout new growth in the quarters ahead.

Yet it's going to require investors to pick and choose their stocks carefully, and CAPS member danpuperi figures the sordid affair involving CF Industries is a web that's just too tangled to get involved in.

The rest of the CAPS community, however, finds the seeds of potential still strong. More than 95% of the almost 1,100 members who rated the fertilizer firm indicate they think it will outperform the broad market averages. You can plant your own opinion on the CF Industries CAPS page, and tell us whether you think it can still produce a bumper crop.

Deconstructing the recession
Reaping the rewards of government stimulus spending, Jacobs Engineering managed to make the best of a bad economy by reporting earnings that beat analyst expectations, even as they came in 38% below last year's effort.

"Stimulus has been a positive for us," CEO Craig Martin noted, "and we've done pretty well in the part of the world that is driven by stimulus."

Unfortunately, everything else is struggling. Jacobs doesn't expect to find the bottom until later this year, assuming the economy doesn't hit a double-dip recession, but in spite of economic headwinds, Jacobs' last quarterly report managed to maintain its full-year profit projections. We'll need to wait to see whether that gets revised in the quarters ahead.

CAPS member RiverRover isn't expecting a big surge anytime soon, but once the economy gets its footing again, look for Jacobs to excel:

With construction down in the current economy, this stock is on sale, but in 2011 things should pick up and this company will be running at full scale. Their global presence is a plus. "90% of business is repeat customers. They have 1 billion in cash ..." 

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 watercooler? Your input can help guide other investors to stocks with bright prospects for growth. 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.

Sign up today for the completely free service, and let us hear what you have to say about the great and almost-great companies that interest you.

Sohu.com is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.

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