Penny stocks can be one way to easily double your money, but there are equally shiny opportunities trading at the other end of the price spectrum, too. I call 'em "three-digit stocks," but if they're anything like Berkshire Hathaway, they can trade in the four-, five-, and six-digit range, too.

penny stock isn't necessarily a good buy simply because it looks cheap, and a three-digit stock shouldn't scare you away just because it carries a hefty price tag. Handsome is as handsome does, as they say. Let's check in with the Motley Fool CAPS community to see which of the high-priced stocks below earn the greatest confidence from our investor-intelligence database:

Stock

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

3-Digit Price

Return on Equity (TTM)

First Citizens Bancshares (Nasdaq: FCNCA)

**

$177.40

15.0%

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR)

**

$125.86

23.6%

Precision Castparts (NYSE: PCP)

*****

$121.32

16.2%

Source: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS. TTM = trailing 12 months.

But just because these stocks are purring is no reason to jump into them blindly. Catching a tiger by the tail -- or a knife falling from on high -- can end up leaving you scratched and bleeding. That's why we recommend you use this list as a launch pad for your own research and analysis.

Highfalutin' honeys
Where Regions Financial (NYSE: RF) and KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) struggle to cope with the mortgage mess left behind by housing's collapse, regional banking rival First Citizens has held up exceptionally well during the recession and its aftermath. And why not, when you've got the taxpayer shouldering your risk.

Profits in the regional bank soared 362% in the second quarter as it gained $47.8 million in net interest income due to loans acquired from failed institutions last year. However, it was a no-risk decision for First Citizens to buy the portfolio because the FDIC is covering almost all of the potential losses related to the acquisitions. Thus it could boost with confidence its loan loss reserves by 53% in the quarter at a time when many banks have reduced theirs.

While it's been flying under the radar of many investors, 77% of the CAPS members rating the regional banking concern think it will outperform the broad market averages. Deposit your thoughts on the First Citizens Bancshares CAPS page about whether you believe its sweet deal with the FDIC will continue to serve it well.

An art masterpiece
First Solar has been able to shine because of its strength as a low-cost PV module maker. Last quarter, sales rose 12% and profits -- although below last year's effort -- handily beat analyst expectations by $0.23, coming in at $1.84 a share compared to forecasts of $1.61. While it lowered its sales outlook for the coming year, as it cut prices to take into account lower German government incentives, earnings estimates have twice been raised over the past three months.

But solar industry analyst Gordon Johnson with Axiom Capital has raised some concerns regarding First Solar, including an apparent restatement of its year-end balance sheet for last year. While the changes seem comparatively small, the company apparently failed to explain the decision. With SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWRA) also announcing some accounting irregularities, this and Johnson's other concerns might give investors reason to steer clear.

CAPS member Buyaluminium thinks First Solar is going to be singed because it's backing the wrong horse in solar development:

[First Solar] is moving into America recently but it focuses solely on huge solar farms at least 500 megawatts or more . I believe that the sweet spot lies in smaller farms next to villages or towns that are green minded and more willing to offer up land for solar farms than heading out into the desert and dragging along a high voltage powerline over the objections of ranchers and natrualists everywhere. Small solar farms do not require major hookup hassles as there are already existing powerlines that can be hooked up easily without much fuss.

Taking wing
Aeronautics parts maker Precision Castparts has proven itself a profit-generating machine, increasing revenues by 12% and profits by 25% annually over the past five years. And while a lot has hinged on Boeing's (NYSE: BA) oft-delayed 787 Dreamliner, the recovery in the domestic airline industry bodes well for the plane maker and its suppliers, like Precision.

According to the International Air Transport Association, premium travel jumped 12% in the first half of 2010 and global airfares have rebounded. There's definitely concern about what the second half of the year will bring, but they're putting on a brave front that global trends will break in the industry's favor.

CAPS member RLBOWERSOX likes Precision's low debt profile and its maintenance of profitable operations throughout the recession. That would be keeping right in line with the 1,245 CAPS members (98% of those who weighed in on the stock) who've rated the plane parts maker to continue soaring against the broad market averages. Book your flight aboard the Precision Castparts CAPS page and let us know whether it will have a soft or hard landing.

Count to 10
These three-digit stocks might be on their way to even higher valuations. That's why it pays to start your own research in Motley Fool CAPS. 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.

Want help finding your own three-digit darlings? Join Fool co-founders David and Tom Gardner at Motley Fool Stock Advisor as they search the market for stocks with the potential to double, triple, and even quadruple in value over time.

Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. First Solar is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Berkshire Hathaway and Precision Castparts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. 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 here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.