Whether in 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, 165,000 members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to about 5,400 stocks, seeking businesses they think 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)

Number of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Verizon (NYSE: VZ)

****

4,062

94%

eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY)

***

4,060

85%

BP (NYSE: BP)

***

4,014

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 they're ready for a trip to the cellar.

A tall drink of water
Well, which is it, guys? Is Verizon kissing up to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) to get an iPhone or not? According to analysts at iSuppli, Apple's suppliers haven't given any indication that the consumer-gadgets company is preparing to build a CDMA phone, which would be a good sign for  Verizon. (The iPhone, which runs on AT&T's (NYSE: T) GSM network, wouldn't be able to talk and surf the Web on a CDMA network).

Yet at the same time, analysts at Rodman & Renshaw say suppliers have been told to expect a production ramp to about 4 million units by September, while manufacturer ASUStek has reportedly been told a CDMA phone is in the works by November.

Of course, it's also getting close to summer, and ever since Apple gave exclusivity to AT&T, we've heard these annual rumors that a Verizon version is imminent. CAPS member minorgod, however, considers the possibility a certainty:

Meanwhile, the growth in Verizon's Android business has been strong and with the iPhone coming to [Verizon] sometime this fall, they will come to dominate the smart phone market within a couple of years. Verizon is already the network of choice for Android users and Android phones already outsell iPhones and other phone OSes. This is all good for [Verizon].

Something to build on
Times have changed dramatically from when eBay was the premier online auction house, and everyone was cleaning out their closets to put stuff up for sale. The Internet has matured vastly since those heady days, and e-commerce has grown more sophisticated, with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) absolutely dominating the space.

Today, investors find the real value in eBay to be its online payment service, rather than its auction system. While rwo1801 agrees that PayPal is a potent force for the auctioneer, the main business is still appealing:

They are garnering additional profits from their paypal program. Also people need to raise monies and are selling more of their personal items on ebay which will increase listing and sold merchandise revenues for ebay.

After the cleanup
For an oil company that carefully cultivated its image as an environmentally friendly driller, it is the height of irony that BP has become the poster child for all that is wrong with the oil industry. While ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) is often thought of as the worst-case polluter, there were actually a few other spills of greater magnitude than the Valdez, and BP has surpassed them all.

Assuming BP is able to finally halt the flow of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the company will have a heckuva tab to pick up for cleanup. CAPS member dar43081 thinks that the worst of the spill has been priced into the stock:

IMO most of the bad news is baked in, although headlines will continue to drive the price. Long term, I think an entry here with buying on the dips will yield a very nice return over the next 5 years.

While I'm hesitant to say the stock can't fall further, I'd have to agree that BP will likely bounce back from this disaster. I don't think there's any reason to rush right in here. This seems to be one of those catastrophes that will allow plenty of time to get in and still make a substantial profit on BP's comeback.

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.

Apple, Amazon.com, and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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.