Penny stocks are a particularly risky way to double your money, 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.

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

AvalonBay Communities (NYSE: AVB)




BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust (NYSE: BPT)




Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT)




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

Just because these stocks are purring is no reason to jump into them blindly. Catching a tiger by the tail can leave you scratched and bleeding. That's why we recommend that you use this list as a launch pad for your own research and analysis.

The rent is too dang high?
According to a survey by the analysts at Marcus & Millichap, apartment vacancies dropped to 7.8%, which should result in an average 3% rise in rents. Earlier this year, the National Apartment Association found that 76% of those surveyed believed that renting an apartment was a smarter decision than buying a home.

With those kinds of numbers, it's understandable why the stocks of apartment builder UDR (NYSE: UDR) and AvalonBay Communities are each up around 40% this year. The biggest residential REIT, Equity Residential, is up more than 50% year to date. And the rental boom will have a profound effect on a housing market already suffering from slack demand.

Yet investors need to choose carefully where they'll invest when playing the rental REIT market. CAPS members think there are much better opportunities than AvalonBay. Only 45% of those who've rated the company believe it will beat the broader market averages, even though nearly 80% of Wall Street analysts think oppositely.

You can let us know in the comments section below, or on the AvalonBay Communities CAPS page, whether it's better to rent or own this stock for the long term.

Oil's unwell that ends wells
With the Obama administration's drilling "permitorium" firmly in place, and the Interior Department banning drilling off Florida's coast, it's no surprise to see ExxonMobil announcing the sale of numerous oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico, or even shallow-water drillers like Hercules Offshore (Nasdaq: HERO) idling rigs.

While some companies might find friendlier countries in which to conduct their operations, not everyone can so easily pull up stakes and move. And royalty trusts are tied to specific locales;  Permian Basin Royalty Trust (NYSE: PBT) is locked into its eponymous western Texas project, while BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust is beholden to Alaska's North Slope.

Chasing the otherwise attractive yields these trusts offer could be risky, should the policy or events surrounding them change. But CAPS member eleev1659 thinks it's simply a matter of economics: "Oil will be in short supply over the years and the price will increase. Harder to find and extract."

To keep on eye on how things progress, you can add BPT to your watchlist, and have all the Foolish news and analysis compiled for your perusal in a single place.

Mine, all mine
With steel consumption expected to grow by 30% worldwide over the next five years, it's not so surprising that Walter Energy wants to wed Western Coal and form a leading producer of metallurgical coal.

There's been a bevy of activity in the space, with acquisition deals being made and companies like Massey Energy (NYSE: MEE) looking for the right price at which to sell themselves. IThe demand side of that equation led Tudorexperience to pick Walter as a top stock late this past summer:

Coke coal is a fantastic investment for a far as the eye can see and WLT far and away leads the pack of coal producers as being the best company to invest in. institutional money will be catching on to this so keep your eye on my top stock pick of 2010-2011.

Wall Street is unanimous in its opinion that Walter will outperform the market -- no small feat, considering that the company has 12 analysts following it. And the CAPS community is exceptionally bullish as well, with nearly 1,400 members rating it to outperform the market. You can add Walter to the Fool's free portfolio tracker, and add your opinion on Walter Energy CAPS page.

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.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.