Some companies are obviously great investments -- in hindsight. Yet for every stock out there screaming "buy me," others simply give us a nudge and a nod. How can we tell tomorrow's obviously great investments from the thousands of pretenders?

The stars' walk of fame
On Motley Fool CAPS, these opportunities can be found among our four-star stocks. In CAPS' proprietary ratings system, they rank higher than most of the other 5,400 starred companies, but they're just shy of superstardom. While all the attention might be focused on their five-star peers, we can sift through CAPS to find four-star companies approaching greatness. Here are a handful.

  • ImmunoGen
  • Jabil Circuit (NYSE: JBL)
  • Momenta Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MNTA)
  • TIBCO Software (Nasdaq: TIBX)

Some of these names might surprise you. For example, grocery store chain SUPERVALU has had a rough time offering the same values shoppers have found at Kroger and Wal-Mart. Yet it's found some success by focusing on higher margin products while eschewing the promotional atmosphere championed by its rivals. Almost great? Even familiar names can still offer some of the best opportunities. Perhaps we've just forgotten the potential they still hold.

Yet while ImmunoGen focuses on anti-cancer therapies and Momenta Pharmaceuticals develops generic drug therapies, investors realize that drug development will be a source for growth, if not from their own pipelines then from partnerships and takeover opportunities. The smart money is going after these stocks, and as the 170,000-plus CAPS members have chosen these companies as less obvious sources for tomorrow's great buys, let's see why they might merit your attention.

In the sight of greatness?
Electronics contract manufacturer Jabil Circuit has benefited from the success of some of its top customers like Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) and Apple. With RIM accounting for 15% of 2010 revenues, Jabil is going to enjoy the growth the BlackBerry maker finds in its aggressively priced PlayBook tablet.

Of course, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) is another 15% customer and its disappointing outlook means Jabil will need to branch out into new markets like it has in health care and clean-tech. Those high-margin businesses helped the contract manufacturer triple profits in the first quarter with a rosy outlook that's poised to push the company higher.

CAPS member donsguesswork is impressed with the quarter's results, returns which underscore the confidence All-Star TMFZahrim placed in Jabil several months back.

What does Jabil have to do to gain some respect? I'm doing my part by scooting over to rate the stock "outperform" for the next year or so, which should be enough time to turn the market's voting machine into a weighing instrument and give proper dues to Jabil's emerging profitability.

Almost 90% of the CAPS members rating the contract manufacturing specialist expect it to outperform the broad market averages, but you can tell us on the Jabil Circuit CAPS page whether you agree it can still make the connection.

Dirt cheap?
Middleware monster TIBCO Software has found the sweet spot of growth by allowing programs from unrelated vendors to interact with one another, saving its customers time and money. More recently, clients such as Wal-Mart and Macy's have found a safe haven in TIBCO's IT processes, an amazing feat when you consider it's been able to steal clients from larger, better-funded rivals such as IBM, Oracle, and SAP.

The storied performance in 2010, though, might just make 2011 a harder case. Tougher same-store sales numbers this year will pressure the middleware specialist, and at 46 times trailing earnings a lot of that growth record is obviously priced in. Yet (NYSE: CRM) is almost double that, and when you compare it to TIBCO's growth prospects, it's not nearly as richly valued. It at least puts TIBCO closer to rivals SAP and IBM.

CAPS member BenSaanich says he's familiar with TIBCO's products, preferring them to Oracle's offerings, a fact the rest of the CAPS community would be hard-pressed to disagree with. More than 92% of those rating TIBCO see it turning in market-beating results still, but if you're not sure whether it is right for your portfolio, you can add the stock to's free portfolio tracker to get all the Foolish news and analysis aggregated for you.

A great opportunity for you
Investor sentiment suggests these four-star investments still seem to be on their way to five-star greatness, but it pays to start your own research on these stocks on 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.

Sign up today for the completely free service and let us hear what you have to say about the great and almost-great companies that interest you.

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.