Penny stocks are one way to double your money, though they're fraught with risk, but there are equally shiny opportunities trading at the other end of the price spectrum, too. 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)

Alcon (NYSE: ACL) **** $162.86 21.8%
Atrion (Nasdaq: ATRI) **** $167.66 16.0%
MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR) *** $106.36 17.4%

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 launchpad for your own research and analysis.

Highfalutin' honeys
Pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NYSE: NVS) isn't stopping with its purchase of Alcon to bolster its pipeline and prospects for growth. It announced last week that it was bringing Genoptix (Nasdaq: GXDX) into the fold to add its specialization in the diagnosis of cancers in bone marrow, blood, and lymph nodes to its own expertise.

Novartis needs these injections because its own in-house operations have been less than stellar. Profits fell 6% last quarter as sales of its flu vaccine fell following the global pandemic turning to naught. Management must have realized early on they would need some growth hormones since it was only last August they took a majority stake in Alcon then agreed to buy the whole thing four months later. They probably saw the same thing the CAPS community did, where 96% of those rating Alcon believe it will outperform the market.

A heart stopper
Medical device maker Atrion dropped 8% the other day for no particular reason. In December, it announced it was paying its shareholders a special dividend of $3.00 per share, noting that it had no debt on its balance sheet while having $41 million sitting in its bank account. The dividend was only going to cost it $6 million, so it is still financially healthy and saw the opportunity to return value to shareholders as a means of underscoring its sound financial situation.

Although it doesn't make medical devices anywhere near as large or expensive as Varian Medical's (NYSE: VAR) or Intuitive Surgical's, the resurgence of hospital capital expenditure spending that has helped lift those device makers' top-line numbers will likely benefit Atrion, too.

CAPS member gmedman calls it an "earnings growth machine," and the CAPS community undoubtedly concurs as virtually every All-Star member rating the device maker marked it to outperform the broad market averages.

You can monitor how management performs by adding the stock to the Fool's free portfolio tracker, and then post your thoughts on the Atrion CAPS page.

Triple-digit titans
Business intelligence software provider MicroStrategy helps companies understand where they're going by studying what they've done. Using proprietary business analytics, MicroStrategy analyzes a business's operations and identifies trends while improving efficiencies. While industry giants like IBM have their own applications, business intelligence, data integration, and modeling are arenas where smaller companies like MicroStrategy and Actuate (Nasdaq: BIRT) are still able to successfully compete.

With 87% of CAPS members rating the business intelligence software specialist to generate market-beating performance, there's no special intelligence required to see this could make for a good investing opportunity.

Yet since its shares popped 23% higher this month following higher licensing revenues being reported, the stock now trades at around 30 times next year's earnings. Actuate, on the other hand, goes for less than half that valuation, but that might represent some concern over earnings that are due to be announced tomorrow. Qlik Technologies has been trading down so far this year and is off 10% from the start of January, yet it goes for nearly 60 times forward estimates.

With momentum at its back, let us know on the MicroStrategy CAPS page whether it can continue its climb higher.

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.

Intuitive Surgical and Qlik Technologies are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. Novartis is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. The Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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.