Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. So why does the media focus so much attention on what Wall Street says about companies, instead of what it does with them?

Luckily for Wall Street watchers, the Internet brings us MSN Money's list of which companies the institutions are buying. True, we should be as skeptical of Wall Street's actions as we are of its words. But when the 165,000-plus lay and professional investors on Motley Fool CAPS agree with Wall Street's opinions, it just might be time for some buying.

Here's the latest edition of Wall Street's Buy List, alongside our investors' opinions of the companies involved:


Recent Price

CAPS Rating

(out of 5)

McMoRan Exploration (NYSE: MMR)



Somaxon Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SOMX)



Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX)



Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Up Last Month" list published on MSN Money after close of trading on Friday. Recent price provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

"These are a few of our favorite things ..."
Turns out, these three Street faves also have more than a few fans here in Fooldom. And for good reason(s).

Netflix, for example, recently stole a march on its movie-renting rivals when it spent $1 billion to stream content from MGM, Viacom, and Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF) over the Internet. Now, as CAPS member nemo1107 argues, "the only competition [Netflix has] is people who download torrents. They've made mincemeat of traditional rental stores. Think if they expanded into video games, now there's an opportunity I would love to see integrated into their business model." Meanwhile, according to SultanOfSwing, Somaxon's "marketing deal with [Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG)] for Silenor is a big, big deal."

And yet, while individual Fools sing these companies' praises, the overall consensus on CAPS remains negative on both. On average, CAPS members give these companies only a paltry two-star rating. Fortunately, we have a stock on this week's list that does quite a bit better.

McMoRan Exploration
According to CAPS All-Star gaamuol, "McMoRan is a proven company, we need to find more oil. What else is there to say?"

Well, we might say where it finds its oil, at least. Because as subsurfacemapper notes, "McMoran is operator of a series of new discoveries and analagous prospects on the GOM shelf. I of course believe these will lead to profitable production in another couple years. I believe gas prices will be higher at that time. I further believe they have been unduly hammered by the BP disaster - the shelf will get back to drilling but the deepwater (where they are not) may be permanently damaged."

Which helps explain why the stock is down so very much this year. And yet, CAPS member KrazyJay believes that the "final kill of the well will send most drillers up. McMo is a good company with a decent record. Now would be a good time to buy in and ride up long term."

Krazy valuations
Wall Street certainly agrees. But should we follow KrazyJay's advice and hitch a ride on these coattails? Not from where I sit.

Consider: McMoRan controls about 272 billion "cubic feet equivalent" of proven natural gas reserves on its balance sheet -- gas currently priced at $3.74 per million BTUs in energy value. Thus, MMR's in-the-ground assets are worth only a little over $1 billion. Yet investors today are valuing the enterprise at more than $1.7 billion, a 66% premium to its asset value.

Maybe I'm crazy, but to me this simply makes no sense. Here you have a company swimming in Gulf Oil risk, selling for 166% times the value of its assets (assets that are going to cost money to extract, let's not forget). Meanwhile, bigger, safer -- and best of all, profitable -- gas plays Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) sell for mere fractions of their asset value.

Time to chime in
If this is Wall Street's idea of a "value proposition," then they're welcome to it. I, for one, see no logic in the Street's move to snap up McMoRan shares today. But I'm willing to be convinced. If there's something more to this story and you'd like to point it out, then here's your chance to set me straight.

Click over to Motley Fool CAPS now, and tell me where I'm wrong.

Fool contributor Rich Smith  does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 562 out of more than 165,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Chesapeake Energy is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice and The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy. Procter & Gamble is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick and The Fool owns shares of and has written covered calls on Procter & Gamble.