Penny stocks are one way to double your money, though it's fraught with risk, 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 might not be a good buy simply because it's cheap, and a three-digit stock shouldn't scare you away just because it carries a hefty price tag. Handsome is as handsome does. 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:


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

3-Digit Price

Return on Capital, TTM

MasterCard (NYSE: MA)








SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD)




Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's; Motley Fool CAPS.

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
Generating income from processing millions of small transactions has proved a lucrative business for MasterCard and Visa (NYSE: V), but with the Federal Reserve preparing new regulations that will limit how much they can charge vendors for processing debit card transactions, analysts are taking a more cautious look at future growth. With a worst-case scenario of as much as a 60% to 80% reduction in debit revenue, MasterCard has seen its stock fall by nearly 25% so far this year. Analysts struggle to see how Visa can continue to generate 55% operating margins going forward (MasterCard's exceed 50%).

But those are worst-case scenarios, and not everyone's convinced that what will be proposed will radically alter the landscape. And with issuers like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup (NYSE: C) promoting so-called "professional cards" that look like regular branded credit cards but are not covered by the CARD Act (so you can still get those whopping interest rates), there are plenty of opportunities to skirt the rules.

Tearing down housing
Is the third time the charm? The possibility of a three-peat on the homebuyers tax credit is rearing its ugly head. As if the damage wrought by the first two attempts at having the taxpayer pay for a homebuyer's down payment wasn't enough, HUD floated a trial balloon on a third stab by saying it was "too early" to decide whether they should make another go at it.

Although the first two iterations of the program artificially boosted sales, the collapse in housing numbers since their expiration shows that all they've really done is pull sales forward. Homebuilders NVR, Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH), and Toll Brothers might reap some short-term benefit out of travelling down that path again, but the longer-term downward pressure it puts on prices will make the industry that much worse in the future.

That sort of outlook helps explain why 56% of CAPS members rating NVR believe it will underperform the broad market averages.

Triple-digit titans
The sovereign debt crisis isn't going away, and investors holding ETFs trading on gold and silver prices like the SPDR Gold Trust and the iShares Silver Trust (NYSE: SLV) will benefit from fears they'll take a turn for the worse again. When Greece was charged with lying to the ECB about its debt situation and the maneuvers it used to hide transactions that would have set off warning bells was revealed, a renewed sense that we hadn't really gotten out of the woods gripped the markets.

Gold prices have been holding firm even as markets have traded higher because of worries that international financial institutions are going to have difficulties raising money. It's the lack of financial stability that has attracted investors like cdulan to the SPDR Gold Trust:

Gold is neither an inflation hedge, nor a deflation hedge, it is a financial stability hedge. As long as the Fed keeps interest rates at zero, the threat of financial instability will force the price of gold to rise slowly as investors anticipate a calamity.

The gold bugs have assumed Europe simply deluded itself when it allowed its banks to pass stress tests that ignored the value of sovereign debt they carried. As Greece and Ireland loom large again, being willfully ignorant of the dangers lurking there will cause gold's price to rise to even newer heights.

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 at 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.

Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. 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 here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.