Whether in the corporate lunchroom, our cubicles, 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.

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.

Stock

CAPS Rating (Out of 5)

No. of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)

***

23,091

91%

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)

***

9319

86%

Citigroup (NYSE: C)

***

9439

81%

Ford (NYSE: F)

**

8440

70%

General Electric (NYSE: GE)

****

15,112

93%

A tall drink of water
With the stench of debt finally awakening them from a fiscally reckless torpor, it's no surprise that banks have recently posted the biggest drop in lending in more than 60 years. That's a long-term net positive, if we're actually starting to wise up and save more while paying down our bills.

But as my Foolish colleague Morgan Housel notes, lending has fallen only in comparison to the go-go days of 2006-2008. Citigroup, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) haven't turned the spigots off completely for consumers and businesses. They're still saturating the economy with credit -- they're just using a garden hose, maybe, instead of a fire hose.

As Morgan says, there are still lots of reasons to hate the banks, but a lack of lending ain't one of them. But let's not get complacent, either; commercial bank loans are down $134 billion so far this year, and consumer credit has fallen 7% from its peak a year ago. What's good for the country may not be so good for banks like Citi and B of A, which are still trying to stand on wobbly knees.

Shaky though they may be, investors think these banks will stand on their own again -- and be off to the races, too. CAPS member ihategoogle finds Citigroup bumping along the bottom here:

You can't keep the financial elite down for long...Citi belongs to the good ol boys club and will be back into the $20's within a few years once the housing market recovers fully. We've hit bottom which means there's no where else to go except up!

With Fed chairman Ben Bernanke foreseeing low interest rates for the long haul, CAPS member ScottishPete says Bank of America will return to the top of its game:

One of the better run banks until the government eyed them to rescue railing mortgage and investment firms which dragged them down with everyone else. If Hugh McConnell's Nations Bank operating culture can survive this bank should once again rise to the top of the financial world.

Deconstructing the recession
Sure, you never want to wish ill on your rivals, but Ford has to be grateful for the ideal timing of Toyota's (NYSE: TM) quality control problems. Ford has proven itself the better car company, and its newest models have caught the fancy of the car-buying public. Still, Toyota had a fairly stellar reputation for quality, and before the recall, its sales slumped only in tandem with those of its rivals. If the market rebounds, a healthy Toyota would be a competitive risk for Ford.

CAPS member akarren thinks Ford's reputation has gotten a boost, if only because it's not Toyota. As trust in Ford's cars rises, so will its sales:

Toyota has given Ford an Image Redemption which is a miracle. Everybody is watching and seeing how maybe Ford doesn't have bad quality. Parent's children are learning that Fords aren't bad. I know they have high debt, but people are starting to trust Ford again, and that hasn't happened in a long time. Expect sales only to go up.

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.

Apple and Ford Motor are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters 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.