Investors are always hunting for the next big stock -- the dream stock whose price increases several times over when the market finally discovers it. It's easy to look back and discover the 10 best stocks of the past decade. But I'm more interested in the tools that can help me evaluate tomorrow's greatest companies.

Motley Fool CAPS offers a variety of resources to aid Fools in finding tomorrow's leaders. Our 160,000-member community is full of investors helping each other beat the market.

We'll enlist CAPS to screen for value companies, then get the story behind some of its more highly rated stocks. CAPS' nifty screener will help us find stocks with:

  • A market cap of at least $1 billion.
  • A long-term debt-to-equity ratio of less than 0.5.
  • A current ratio of at least 1.
  • A price-to-earnings ratio of less than 15.

Then we'll tap the collective intelligence of our CAPS members to see whether these companies present real opportunities -- or whether the numbers fail to tell the true story.

Opinions with the numbers
Below is a sample of stocks our screen returned.

Company

P/E Ratio

Long-Term
Debt-to-Equity
Ratio

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Raytheon (NYSE: RTN)

12.1

0.23

****

SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK)

11.7

0.24

****

Encana (NYSE: ECA)

10.4

0.46

****

Data and star rankings from CAPS as of April 23.

Raytheon
Raytheon has a solid history of generating cash, enabling the company to pay increasing dividends and buy back shares. Share repurchases helped the defense contractor increase its first-quarter per-share profit, and its ability to provide for the military's evolving and growing needs has some investors calling Raytheon recession-proof. It's meeting the growing need for military training as well as intelligence and surveillance technologies, a trend that is expected to continue to benefit Raytheon and competitor L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL), which recently raised its full-year earnings guidance. 

With Raytheon's hands in a variety of projects and its strong fundamentals, many CAPS members like the opportunity, with 95% of the 1,200 members rating Raytheon maintaining a bullish view of shares.                                   

SanDisk
SanDisk's stock took a beating during the recession, but shares have rebounded strongly in the past year and many CAPS members see a great future for the company given its strong position in flash memory. SanDisk expects to continue to indirectly benefit from the demand for mobile devices and personal computers that has also fueled earnings at other companies in the memory space -- Micron's (NYSE: MU) fiscal-second-quarter revenue doubled and Samsung forecasts big financial gains this year as well. For its part, SanDisk recently blew past first-quarter expectations and raised its full-year revenue guidance, giving investors plenty of reasons to be bullish. 

In CAPS, 92% of the 1,755 members rating SanDisk expect it to outperform the broader market.                            

Encana
Despite continued natural gas price weakness, many CAPS members like gas's potential for a larger long-term role in providing energy to a growing global population. And while weak gas prices have sent some producers like Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) looking to heavy up with more oil plays, Encana remains focused on being a low-cost producer and has goals of doubling its gas production in five years. The Haynesville Shale remains an area of growth for Encana and an area that pipeline operator Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMP) sees as a booming opportunity to buy into with its recent deal with PetroHawk Energy. According to Kinder Morgan, this joint venture will be one of the largest systems in the U.S. 

With huge reserves identified across North America, many CAPS members remain bullish on Encana's future, as 97% of the 1,033 members rating the stock expect it to beat the S&P.      

Let 160,000 members be the jury
The collective wisdom of a huge pool of investors can help give context to a page of numbers from a stock screen. But individual investors are still the best judges of what to do with their own money. Fools should always perform their own due diligence.

Happily, it's easy to chime in with your own opinion. If you agree that these companies present dream opportunities -- or see more of a nightmare instead -- simply scroll down and add your thoughts in the comments box.

The Motley Fool Inside Value team looks for stocks that are selling at bargain prices well below their intrinsic value. To see the full list of cheap companies the service is recommending today, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock dreams of stocks and sugarplum fairies, but not together. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value choice. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy. The Fool's disclosure policyscreens the good, the bad and the ugly.