Based on the aggregated intelligence of 170,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, Australian mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) has earned a respected four-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at BHP's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

BHP facts

Headquarters (founded)

Melbourne, Australia (1885)

Market Cap

$204.64 billion

Industry

Diversified metals and mining

Trailing-12-Month Revenue

$53.3 billion

Management

CEO Marius Kloppers (since 2007)

CFO Alexandre Vanselow (since 2006)

Return on Equity (average, past 3 years)

31.2%

Cash/Debt

$12.75 billion / $15.76 billion

Dividend Yield

2.3%

Competitors

Rio Tinto (NYSE: RTP)

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX)

Vale (NYSE: VALE)

Teck Resources (NYSE: TCK)

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 97% of the 2,675 members who have rated BHP believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bulls include All-Stars latimerburned and 3DeeFool, both of whom are ranked in the top 15% of our community.

Just last month , latimerburned highlighted BHP as a solid opportunity for patient Fools: 

They probably underperform through the [PotashCorp (NYSE: POT)] deal but long term this is a buy. Good inflation fighter with all their metals and minerals. Great management. Shareholder friendly. Low debt level. Decent dividend.

To be sure, PotashCorp continues to talk with other potential bidders in an attempt to thwart BHP's takeover plans. Of course, even without the acquisition, BHP's portfolio of low-cost, high-quality assets remains one of the most attractive, not to mention stable, you'll ever find. As one of the world's most diversified miners (across countries and products), BHP's returns on invested capital tend to be less volatile than those of other highly rated metal producers like Rio Tinto, Vale, Freeport, and Teck.

So although BHP currently trades at a forward P/E premium to those same foes, CAPS member 3DeeFool believes its ultradiversified nature can still give investors plenty of peace of mind:

Given an inflationary outlook, it would seem that commodity prices are set to rise. BHP is probably the most diversified resource company out there, and producing pretty much any commodity out there (and extremely geographically diversified). The [PotashCorp] bid further, while expensive, extends their reach into fertilizer and food production (but I'm not so certain how beneficial it will be to the bottom-line, at least in the short term).

What do you think about BHP, or any other stock for that matter? If you want to retire rich, you need to put together the best portfolio you can. Owning exceptional stocks is a surefire way to secure your financial future, and on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are working every day to find them. CAPS is 100% free, so get started!

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. 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 Fool's disclosure policy always gets a perfect score.