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.

In our CAPS community, 160,000 members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to about 5,400 stocks as they seek businesses they think will outperform the market. Below, we'll take a look at some of the most popular and talked-about stocks on CAPS, and examine whether you think they'll continue their winning ways.

Stock

CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

Number of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO)

****

5,157

95%

Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN)

***

5,149

92%

AT&T

***

5,138

93%

Of course, just because a lot of investors find these stocks interesting doesn't mean they're an automatic addition to your portfolio. You still need to do more research to find out if they're interesting because they're set to take off, or because their stocks are ready for a trip to the cellar.

A tall drink of water
Although U.S. sales of carbonated drinks continued their annual decline -- they've fallen for five straight years -- the drop in 2009, at 2.1%, was the smallest since 2006. Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) experienced  weakening U.S. volumes last year, yet industry researchers at Beverage Digest say that overall volumes now stand at the same place they were back in the mid 1990s. Talk about a lost decade.

One bubbly exception was Dr Pepper Snapple (NYSE: DPS). Its volumes rose last year on the strength of its diet soda brands, and the company stole market share from the two industry titans, finishing at 16.4% of the carbonated soft drink market.

Investors probably aren't concerned that Coke, which has a 42.7% market share, will lose its top spot, particularly because it will bring its top bottler into the fold. Pepsi's doing the same thing, and the move should allow both companies to reduce costs and improve the speed with which they bring products to market. That's exactly why CAPS member herbs814 figures Coke will outperform the market, while All-Star edwjm says you can't discount the power of a brand that has consistently paid rich dividends for more than a century.

The Coca-Cola Company (KO) is a manufacturer, distributor and marketer of nonalcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups in the world which has paid dividends since 1893. At the current price of $53.75, the dividend is about 3% and very safe. The p/e is about 18�, which is reasonable for such a safe and stable company. The brand name is one of the best known on the planet.

Keeping up with technology
There has been plenty of ink used on how Garmin is faltering. Heck, I've been one of those who view the GPS maker as something akin to pagers and other cigar butt stocks: investments that may have just a puff or two left on them. Despite Garmin's ability to throw off lots of cash, its dedicated devices will have an increasingly narrow slice of the market to sell into because Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) continues to give away mapping software. Its foray into smartphones might not be a success.

Garmin shares trade about 70% higher than they were a year ago, albeit with some drops along the way. My Foolish colleague Rich Smith would say I'm crazy for thinking Garmin is as useful as a paper map with a big tear in the fold. He argues that there's no way Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) or Nokia (NYSE: NOK) will be able to embed themselves in the aviation and marine markets the way the GPS king has. And Garmin reported 24% growth for the outdoor/fitness segment in its most recent quarter, but the segment contributes only 16% of total sales.

Although CAPS member IdahoAve thinks those rivals will be able to severely cut into business, MoPicks says the industry leader still has too much going for it.

Boosting dividend to $1.50 this quarter. No debt. Leader in its space, especially aviation, sports and boating. Strong growth ahead in aftermarket auto GPS. Moving HQ to Switzerland by end of June 2010, which forces end of shareholders' rights plan. Could be a takeover target, but should perform well regardless.

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 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.

Coca-Cola and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Google is a Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are Income Investor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a roll your diagonal call position on PepsiCo. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.