With huge federal deficits, sovereign debt problems throughout Europe, and an economic slowdown in China, there are plenty of catalysts to keep investors intrigued with companies who are related to metals and mining. Some companies here are using the tumult as a potential springboard to profits while others teeter on the verge of collapse. It's one of the most-watched industries among those who have created a watchlist with the Fool, and today we're able to single out the one metal and mining player that is garnering the most attention.

People watch stocks for different reasons – they're waiting for a dip in price, watching for a specific catalyst, gathering all the news and information that might affect stocks they already own, or considering a sell. Regardless of their motivation, we can better understand market sentiment by seeing who's watching what. With the Fool's free My Watchlist service now three months old, we have tens of thousands of people telling us the businesses that have, for whatever reason, piqued their interest.

And the most-watched company in this volatile industry is...

Drumroll, please
Looking at the aggregate data, we see that Nucor (NYSE: NUE) is the leader in terms of watch interest, the percentage of people keeping an eye on the metals and mining industry in general who are specifically watching each company. The company that pioneered minimill technology to become the top U.S. steelmaker crushes its competition among the most-watched.

The company likely received a boost from its ongoing coverage in Stock Advisor, where it became a formal recommendation of the service in March 2010. As David wrote then:

I love companies that succeed by doing things differently. I'm looking for businesses that disrupt existing industries by reinventing the rules and catching competitors napping. If you look hard enough, you can find one anywhere, even in the cyclical, old-economy steel industry.

[Nucor] came to prominence as one of these scrappy upstarts. While [it's] more Goliath than David these days, its innovative culture remains — and that's a big part of why I think it will beat the market over the next five years.

Here are the rest of the top five most-watched companies in the industry with their watch interest along with the stocks' CAPS rating to show the sentiment of our free investing community.

Company

Market Cap
(in millions)

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Watch Interest

Nucor $14,069 **** 17.3%
Titanium Metals (NYSE: TIE) $3,065 **** 9.1%
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX) $55,710 **** 3.8%
Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW) $12,866 *** 3.3%
Alcoa (NYSE: AA) $15,577 **** 3.1%
Compass Minerals Int'l (NYSE: CMP) $2,927 **** 2.9%
Terra Nova Royalty (NYSE: TTT) $511 ***** 2.3%

Whether you're keeping an eye on the industry giants, or monitoring an up-and-comer like tiny Terra Nova Royalty, it pays to watch. You can make smarter investing decisions with your own version of My Watchlist, free from the Fool. Click below to start following one of the stocks mentioned above:

Roger Friedman doesn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned, but they'll all be on his watchlist. Nucor and Titanium Metals are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Nucor and Terra Nova Royalty. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.