Investing in penny stocks is 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. I call 'em "three-digit stocks," yet if they're anything like Berkshire Hathaway, they can trade in the four-, five-, and six-digit range, too.

Just as a penny stock might not be a good buy simply because it's cheap, 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

Apache (NYSE: APA) **** $106.35 14.3%
NACCO Industries (NYSE: NC) **** $105.00 4.3%
Strayer Education (Nasdaq: STRA) * $129.90 63.7%

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's; 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
When it comes to oil and gas discoveries, megafinds like those off the coast of Brazil by Petrobras in the Tupi field or the just-discovered Libra prospect (possibly even larger than Tupi) tend to grab the headlines. Yet Apache is just fine with its own discoveries off Australia's western coast.

While the deposits are estimated to run in the tens of millions of barrels, rather than the billions at Tupi and Libra, Apache's Balnave license could generate recoverable reserves of 14 million to 19 million barrels. The area is also home to the Wheatstone natural gas field, a 4.5 trillion-cubic-feet deposit that's operated jointly by Apache, Chevron (NYSE: CVX), and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration. While Chevron owns a 75% stake in the $20 billion project, Apache recently entered into a deal to sell liquefied natural gas from the field to Japan utility giant Tokyo Electric Power.

CAPS member MEMPHISKID figures that Apache's global operations insulate it from the worst of the animosity directed at oil companies here in the U.S. these days it:

[Apache] ownes production in many Countries outside the US which keeps them out of the reach and away from the hatred of Oil Companies by the US Government

Let us know on the Apache CAPS page if you think the oil and gas star will be a major discovery for investors.

Not so rough
When it comes to heavy machinery, Deere and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) garner the most attention while smaller outfits like NACCO Industries hide in the shadows. Yet so far this year, NACCO has outperformed both of them, rising 115% compared to their returns of around 43%.

Yet it's not an apples-to-apples comparison since in addition to its Hyster and Yale brands, NACCO also has a large consumer products segment (Hamilton Beach) as well as a coal mining operation (North American Coal). Talk about diversity, but with more than two-thirds of revenues coming from its industrial equipment business we can see why it's grouped in there.

CAPS member 9ballkid likes NACCO's growing cash position, and 88% of all the CAPS members rating this conglomerate believe it will go on to outperform the broad market averages.

You can stay on top of NACCO Industries by adding it to your My Watchlist page and having all the Foolish news and analysis aggregated in one place.

Triple-digit titans
For-profit education was one of the few sectors expected to benefit from the recession, as unemployed workers were going to hit the books to bulk up their resumes while waiting for the economy to improve. Over the past year, though, the stocks of top industry names like Corinthian Colleges (Nasdaq: COCO) and Apollo Group (Nasdaq: APOL) have fallen 50% or more while ITT Educational Services and Strayer Education are off 40%.

Turns out, people with no income are having difficulty repaying school loans. Can you imagine? Add in an administration looking to yank access to federal financial aid for the for-profit sector and you have an industry on the verge of getting left back.

Nevertheless, CAPS members remain hopeful. bbrewer22 says the market has overreacted to the shenanigans on Capitol Hill and valuehunter79 says Strayer is more financially secure than many other players:

Play on beaten down stock. Will there be casualty in For-Profit education companies? Possibly yes, and some may not survive. Will Strayer be one of them? Unlikely based on their financials and hence the risk for the reward.

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.

Apollo Group and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Chevron and Petroleo Brasileiro are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Fool has established a bear put spread position on Caterpillar. 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.