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)

No. of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Ctrip.com (Nasdaq: CTRP)




Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI)




Southern Copper (Nasdaq: SCCO)




Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

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
Travel abroad continues to be a bright spot, particularly in Asia, where flights remain unaffected by volcanoes spewing ash into the airspace. Ctrip recently reported revenue jumped 46% to $86 million as air ticket booking revenue scored a 44% gain. Even when you look at name-your-own-price innovator priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN), which was grounded by uncertainty over slowing growth in bookings, international bookings soared 73% sans currency fluctuations, partly on the strength of its Asian business.

eLong (Nasdaq: LONG), China's second largest booking site and a subsidiary of Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE), also saw a 44% increase in air ticketing commissions in the fourth quarter compared to the year-ago period.

As the largest travel site focused solely on the Chinese market, though, Ctrip doesn't have to worry about civil unrest in Thailand like priceline does, and it wasn't influenced by Iceland's volcano like Expedia and priceline were. That's why CAPS member svannuffel is excited by the growth opportunities Ctrip presents in this pitch from March:

Chinese travel will increase in line with increase in revenues. Ctrip.com is the biggest chines e-travel company and keeps growing a stellar rates... :)

Never going hat-in-hand again
Look out Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT), the consumer is tired of scrimping! After a prolonged recession, she's willing to open her wallet again. No more generic goods for her; she wants Coach handbags, Tiffany bracelets, and overpriced jeans from Nordstrom. All those companies reported strong sales in their last quarterly reports suggesting the consumer is back, baby, and she's looking to spend, spend, spend!

While that doesn't bode well for having learned any lessons from the recession, it does mean Whole Foods Market is likely to benefit from customers willingly shopping its sumptuous food offerings. CAPS member Mybesteffort thinks it's more than that, and says quality is just as important as price:

Whole Foods will be the wave of the future. The company itself is simply riding the tide of consumer demand for healthier and better tasting foods without unhealthy pesticides and herbesides. Smart and knowledgeable management plus a huge customer base will make this another Google in 10 years..

Jiggers, it's the coppers!
Some say that the Greek economy is going to look like the Acropolis soon, a ruined testament to a glorious past, that's also threatening to pull down the rest of Europe with it. And if anyone hasn't noticed, the U.S. economy remains pretty fragile, and China is trying to prevent its own from overheating. That commodities like copper are falling in price even as gold is soaring shouldn't be a surprise, but that creates great opportunities, too.

Because copper is used in so many industrial applications, its long-term outlook is pretty bright. China might be scaling back a little bit now, but it has such enormous growth potential ahead of it that there is a huge pocket of demand that will build up beneath it. Southern Copper, as one of the largest integrated copper producers in the world, stands to reap the windfall when the dam finally bursts open. Shares are down about 15% over the past month and about 40% below its all time high hit back in 2007.

CAPS member TraderMikeSays says not to bury the metals specialist, but expect to be able to find better entry points in the future:

I don't think metals are dead, I think they are a buy here. However, they may pull-back further which would be an excellent entry point.

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.

Ctrip is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Wal-Mart Stores is a Inside Value pick. Coach, priceline.com, and Whole Foods are Stock Advisor recommendations.

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.