There are plenty of strategies for picking stock winners, from finding low P/E stocks to seeking companies selling at a discount to their future cash flows. At the small-cap investment service Motley Fool Hidden Gems, even in this market, the analysts are able to stay ahead of the pack by finding undervalued stocks that Wall Street and investors have ignored.

But what if we could whittle down our list of prospects beforehand, to find those whose engines are just getting warmed up?

Using our investor intelligence database at Motley Fool CAPS, I screened for stocks that were marked up by investors before their share prices rose over the past three months. My screen returned just 117 stocks when I ran it, no doubt reflecting the market's turmoil during that time, and included these recent winners:


CAPS Rating Aug. 6, 2010

CAPS Rating Nov. 5, 2010

Trailing 13-week Performance

Goodrich Petroleum




Magnum Hunter Resources




Alpha & Omega Semiconductor (Nasdaq: AOSL)




Source: Motley Fool CAPS Screener; trailing performance from Nov. 5 to Feb. 4.

I previously picked Alpha & Omega Semiconductor as a stock ready to run in October; since then, it's performance has more than doubled the market's 9% gain. But while this screen might tell us which stocks we should have looked at three months ago, we'd rather find the stocks that we ought to be looking at today. I went back to the screener in search of stocks that were just bumped up to three stars or better, sport valuations lower than the market's average, and haven't appreciated by more than 10% in the past month.

Of the 49 stocks the screen returned, here are three that are still attractively priced, but which investors think are ready to run today:


CAPS Rating Nov. 5, 2010

CAPS Rating Feb. 4, 2011

Trailing 4-Week Performance

P/E Ratio

Cardero Resources (NYSE: CDY)





Vectren (NYSE: VVC)





VeriSign (Nasdaq: VRSN)





Source: Motley Fool CAPS Screener; price return from Jan. 7 to Feb. 4.

You can run your own version of this screen over on CAPS; just remember that the data's dynamically updated in real time, so your results may vary. That said, let's examine why investors might think these companies will go on to beat the market.

Cardero Resources
Paint maker Sherwin-Williams (NYSE: SHW) is just one company feeling the impact of rising prices for titanium dioxide, the base mineral used in the manufacture of white paint. Cardero Resources says drilling at its Titac project in Minnesota is turning up massive amounts of iron and titanium oxide, while it's exploring how to progress on its Longnose project, which it says BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) identified as the "largest known ilmenite resource in North America." Ilmenite is another titanium-iron oxide mineral.

Yet Cardero's interests in a coal mining project most interest CAPS member 3DeeFool:

Global demand for both thermal (used in power plants) and metallurgical (coking-used to make steel) coal is booming. Thermal coal prices have risen 48 percent since January and cold weather in Europe is driving energy demands even higher. India and China also continue to consume huge quantities of both thermal and met coal.

You can add Cardero to your watchlist and stay on top of all our Foolish news and analysis as it develops.

A healthy dividend yield might earn utility Vectren a spot in your portfolio, though its growth rate has been fairly anemic over the past five years. That hasn't stopped more than 91% of CAPS All-Stars from rating the gas distribution specialist to outperform the market; the two analysts following it remain similarly bullish.

With only a few dozen CAPS members contributing their ratings, however, there's plenty of room for additional opinions. Deliver your own insights about its prospects for growth on the Vectren CAPS page.

Internet infrastructure provider VeriSign recently announced that it begin operating the domain registry for .gov domain-name system servers. Last year, VeriSign sold its identity and authentication business to Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) so that it could focus more on its .com and .net domain-name business. Analysts weren't sure where VeriSign would grow following the Symantec transaction; I guess now, they have their answer.

Some 85% of CAPS members rate the domain-name registrar to outperform the market. You can register your opinion on the VeriSign CAPS page.

Three for free
Are these companies still a good value and ready to make their move? I'm heading over to CAPS to mark them to outperform the broader averages. If you agree join me there, or let us know in the comments section below whether you think these or any other stocks are starting to rev their engines.

Sherwin-Williams is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. 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.