At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we were doing.

But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We'll also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we track the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best ...
Were you shocked and dismayed when All-Star analyst Brean Murray downgraded Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG) back in June? Brean cited undeniably gloomy news: health-care budget cuts in the "socialized medicine" states of Germany and Britain, and fears of "similar efforts in the other major European markets like France and Italy." Fast-forward three months, and Intuitive's stock has tumbled nearly 15%.

Fear not, Fool. Last week, as most investors were looking forward to the prospects of a penultimate summer weekend, Deutsche Bank lingered in the office long enough to take a second look at the medical devices sector. As it turns out, those valuations aren't so horrible anymore.

Examining a dizzying field of stocks from Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) to Zimmer (NYSE: ZMH), Deutsche found most priced to pace the market at best. It also uncovered a few potential bargains: Baxter International (NYSE: BAX), Covidien (NYSE: COV), and Medtronic (NYSE: MDT). While it's true that "sales and earnings growth is decelerating due to the macroeconomic environment," Deutsche believes that if you're "selective and opportunistic," you may be able to pick up a few shares here at acceptable prices.

Let's go to the tape
According to our CAPS stats, Deutsche ranks highly as a stockpicker. Scoring in the top 10% of investors we track, Deutsche has done a particularly good job of picking pharmaceuticals stocks. (And an even more particularly good job recommending Biovail (NYSE: BVF) last year -- that stock in particular is beating the S&P 500's returns by a whopping 143 percentage points on the back of a tremendous surge in earnings.)

It's also true that Deutsche appears to be stacking the deck in its favor this time, picking stocks that (for the most part) do appear to be priced attractively. Sure, Baxter doesn't look all that great at 16.7 times earnings, and a mere 9.1% long-term projected growth rate. But that shouldn't detract from the attraction of Medtronic -- selling for a bargain-basement 10.6 times earnings, projected to grow at 9%, and rewarding investors a tidy 2.7% dividend payout. Nor does it lessen the value of Deutsche's Covidien recommendation.

In fact, the more I look at Covidien, the more I like it (even better than Medtronic). With a 15 P/E ratio and 1.9% dividend yield, Covidien looks like the kind of stock value investors and income seekers can agree on. It also boasts the best growth rate of the three stocks Deutsche named as its "top picks" -- 14.3%. To top it all off, with less than a billion dollars of net debt on its balance sheet, Covidien has the strongest balance sheet of the bunch.

Foolish final thought
Granted, in the current economic environment -- the one Brean Murray so accurately described for us earlier in the summer -- none of these stocks are shoo-ins.

Granted, too, as good an investor as Deutsche is in general, any investor worth his salt, and in particular any investor who takes the time to check out the analyst on CAPS, cannot help but notice that Deutsche has put on a pretty weak performance in the health-care equipment and supplies industry, where a sizable majority of its recommendations have failed to outperform the market. That's where Deutsche's pharma expertise comes into play, though.

You see, in addition to making medical equipment, Covidien also dabbles in the manufacturing of branded and generic pharmaceuticals (about 27% of its business.) When you add up the facts in its favor: An attractive P/E ratio, tidy dividend yield, strong growth rate -- plus the fact that the company's drug business plays right to Deutsche's strength -- I think that of the three med stocks Deutsche named last week, this one is the best bet of the lot.

Disagree? Think Medtronic, maybe, is the better bet, or perhaps Baxter? Take two aspirin, and post your rebuttal on Motley Fool CAPS in the morning.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he was recently ranked No. 585 out of more than 170,000 members. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Covidien is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Intuitive Surgical is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool owns shares of Medtronic.

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.