This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios Series.

Most investors don't keep tabs on their companies' fundamental value. That's a mistake. If you take the time to read past the headlines and crack a filing now and then, you're in a much better position to spot potential trouble early. Better yet, you'll improve your odds of finding the underappreciated home run stocks that provide the market's best returns.

We can help you keep tabs on your companies with, our free, personalized stock tracking service. Here are three stocks from my own watchlist.

1. CAPS Weekly Top Stock Idea: Genco Shipping & Trading (NYSE: GNK)
Each week, I cull a top stock idea from the pitches made on CAPS, The Motley Fool's 170,000-member free investing community. Genco Shipping & Trading, a pick from July, caught my eye, since its shares have dipped amid concerns of falling lease rates for ships. Rivals such as Diana Shipping haven't suffered quite so steep a drop; since Diana uses longer-term contracts than Genco, it's not as affected by day-to-day changes in rates. Meanwhile, fellow competitor DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS) has actually risen, having announced that it's already signed contracts for more than 80% of its ship days for 2011.

To see the pitch selected for CAPS' Weekly Top Stock Idea, click here. If you want to follow my weekly picks, you can subscribe to the series' RSS feed or follow us on Twitter.

2. Nordic American Tankers (NYSE: NAT)

Nordic American Tanker is an international tanker company that ships crude oil around the world. Like competitors K-SEA Transportation (NYSE: KSP) and Frontline (NYSE: FRO), its stock has fallen this past year in the wake of low shipping rates and an excess supply of tankers.

Nordic American has a fairly unique dividend policy: It pays out cash to shareholders based on its net operating cash flow, then funds capital expenditures by issuing new shares. This means its dividend can fluctuate wildly from year to year.

As China's demand for oil rises, Nordic American's excess supply should find employment. The resulting rise in shipping rates would benefit Nordic's dividend. Rates had risen steadily since early November, but they took a tumble right around Christmas. Additionally, Nordic has a strong balance sheet with barely any debt. If you're interested in the oil tanker business, Nordic American is definitely one for your watchlist.

3. SandRidge Energy (NYSE: SD)
SandRidge Energy is run by Tom Ward; he co-founded Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) with Aubrey McClendon, and sat  on the company's board until 2006. Last year, SandRidge made several acquisitions designed to shift the company's primary focus from natural gas to oil production. SandRidge now has a sizable location in Texas and Oklahoma to search for oil. It expects that its production will swing from mainly natural gas to mainly oil in 2011.

Going forward, the company has a large amount of debt on its balance sheet; as SandRidge begins to pay down that debt, the assets it purchased should pay off for shareholders. In another good sign, superinvestor Prem Watsa holds a large stake in SandRidge through his company, Fairfax Financial. SandRidge is definitely an energy player worth watching.

My Foolish bottom line
If you're looking for more information on these companies, keep checking in on my Rising Star portfolio in the coming weeks, as I look further into each of them.

This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series, where we give some of our most promising stock analysts cold, hard cash to manage on the Fool's behalf. We'd like you to track our performance and benefit from these real-money, real-time free stock picks. Click here to see all of our Rising Star analysts (and their portfolios).

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.