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.

The 165,000 members of our CAPS community -- who give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to about 5,400 stocks -- seek 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

Boeing (NYSE: BA)

***

3,932

90%

Costco (Nasdaq: COST)

****

3,862

96%

Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG)

***

3,802

94%

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
It's lower costs that could eventually ground Boeing in its duel with European plane maker EADS to win the Air Force's KC-X tanker project. Not its own, but rather those of EADS, because Boeing says government subsidies allow the European contractor to underbid it.

Higher costs are an ongoing worry for Boeing. In its defense business, it's the KC-X project and the recent strike in which its C-17 cargo workers won higher pay and benefits from the manufacturer. The Defense Department wants to wind down the program and bolster Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT) C-5 Galaxy fleet instead. Of course, Lockheed and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) also face reduced defense spending on their own projects.

Even Boeing's commercial side faces higher costs as the Dreamliner 787 continues to run over estimates. All of this leads CAPS member surfnskate to believe there's too much going against Boeing for it to outperform.

Dollar is getting stronger and this has a negative effect on their exports.
Increased competition from Europe and weaker euro will also take away from their sales.
Reduced defense spending.
The outsourcing problems for the dreamliner aren't done...perhaps they are done in the development stage but not production stage...meaning more M&A they didn't really want or need in order to control the supply line.
Management keeps changing timelines...and they aren't done.

Something to build on
While Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) reaps the headlines for its low-cost values, Costco actually reigned supreme on overall satisfaction in a recent Consumer Reports survey. Perhaps it's not a scientific study, and results are skewed by the magazine's subscriber demographics -- wealthier, more educated folk who might look down their nose at shoppers (including yours Fool-y) pushing a cart in Sam's Club -- but for delivering the best bang for the buck, Costco couldn't be topped.

It's the overall experience that leads CAPS member zenodux to suggest that the warehouse chain will continue delivering the goods: "Costco keeps costs low and customers happy. Membership is a great value."

That could be why 96% of the more than 3,800 CAPS members rating Costco agree, picking it to outperform the broad market averages.

The pause that refreshes
Intuitive Surgical is only just getting its feet wet abroad, compared with Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) or Medtronic, which generate 43% and 38% of their revenues outside the U.S., respectively. Because it's just starting out, the slide in the euro won't hurt it as much as it will its rivals, especially with countries from Greece to the U.K. imposing austerity measures.

The medical device maker might still slide with the market correction, and CAPS member mcornice1 hopes it does so that shares will sell at a discount.

I love this company. But it needs to come back a bit. ISRG has had a nice run, so when the market as a whole pulls back about 10% I expect ISRG to come back even more. I expect to get it around $240 in the coming months. And when it hits that, I'll buy in bulk.

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. 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.

Costco Wholesale and Wal-Mart Stores are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Intuitive Surgical is a Rule Breakers selection and Costco Wholesale is a Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Costco Wholesale and Medtronic. 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.