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 160,000-strong CAPS community -- where members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to some 5,400 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)

Number of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN)




PotashCorp (NYSE: POT)




McDonald's (NYSE: MCD)




Of course, just because a lot of investors find these stocks interesting, that doesn't mean they're an automatic addition to your portfolio. You still need to do more research to find out whether 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
The number of times the analysts have "gotten" Amazon.com can probably be counted on one hand. Take this last earnings report, for example. The online retailer realized a 46% increase in sales to more than $7 billion, while operating income came in 62% higher. So what does Wall Street say? Well, according to one guy, a nearly $300 million net profit "looks pretty puny against a $66 billion market cap."

Um, hello? How often does Disney (NYSE: DIS) ($71 billion market cap), Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) ($64 billion), or other megacaps like Amazon boost revenue by 46%? Even its "puny profits" were 68% higher than a year ago.

Admittedly Amazon's top-selling Kindle faces new competition from the iPad, and that's forced it to give in on book title pricing, but the Kindle will soon be available in stores for the first time, in a move that ought to broaden its appeal to consumers. As Amazon continues to steal share from its rivals, and so long as Wall Street keeps mistaking its growth opportunities, the market will continue to undervalue the e-commerce giant.

CAPS member glennpwhite invests where he shops and says Amazon will only go on to improve its operations in the future.

As a retailer they just keep getting better and better. Online retail will continue to grow rapidly for a number of reasons including rising fuel costs. Never mind the fact that Amazon almost always beats brick and mortar prices. With their strong position in cloud computing, revenues and profit margins will only increase. Tolerate some price volatility and hold for the long term.

Lost in the wilderness
The easy answer to whether fertilizer producers PotashCorp and Mosaic (NYSE: MOS) will grow in the future is that the world needs to eat, so farmers will continue to plant, and they'll need fertilizers to make the plants grow. That's true in large part, but it tends to ignore some of the grittier details that may make it a tougher row for fertilizer producers to hoe. Mosaic's recent result may indicate what PotashCorp is likely to report next week.

Despite high demand for fertilizers, analysts see reluctance on the part of farmers to commit to big fertilizer purchases. If certain crops yield bumper results, it could mean lower prices for nutrient producers down the road as crop prices fall. Mosaic is already seeing some pushback toward price increases, and with raw-material costs rising, it's not expecting much, if any, margin expansion.

CAPS All-Star FreeMortal looks differently at investing in PotashCorp: "Potash has been beaten down a bit much I think. Food commodities will do well, both as a hedge against further disaster, and as a way of diversifying from gold."

Jot this down
As CAPS All-Star TMFJoker notes, McDonald's is "not just greasy burgers any more." The McCafe line of drinks it introduced was a shot across the bow of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), in an indication that McD's was willing to draw a line in the coffee grounds and take a stand on customer retention. Coffee-segment sales have grown to 5% of total revenue as global comps rose to more than 4%, giving the hamburger chain more sizzle than grizzle.

CAPS member mpotisk likes the international opportunities that are still present, particularly with more Golden Arches arcing over Asia: "Unbeatable franchise value plus fast expansion in China and other emerging markets should deliver some nice long term gains."

With more than 4,600 CAPS members weighing in on the burgermeister, you can join them in sinking your teeth into it on the McDonald's 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 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.

Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Amazon.com, Walt Disney, and Starbucks are Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.