This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series.

Recently, the famous chess player Garry Kasparov had this to say about the legendary Bobby Fischer:

The nature of genius may not be definable. Fischer's passion for puzzles was combined with endless hours of studying and playing chess. The ability to put in those hours of work is in itself an innate gift. Hard work is a talent.

Hard work is a talent. That sounds like an odd thing to say in our culture today, which highly values quick fixes and shortcuts. Yet hard work is perhaps the single most important thing that separates great investors from ordinary ones. The path to investing greatness is a long one, and it requires many years of study and daily deliberate practice.

Our Rising Stars are committed to completing this journey, and you are welcome to join them on their quest. Following are summaries of their latest stock picks.

Rising Star Buy: PepsiCo
Can the maker of Funyuns (yum) be considered "socially responsible"? Rising Star Alyce Lomax thinks so, and that's why she purchased shares of PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), which owns Frito-Lay, for her portfolio.

Led by CEO Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo is, in Alyce's words, "a high-quality blue chip that's trying to do the right thing in many respects." Recently, it's been moving forward with efforts to make its workforce more diverse and its manufacturing processes more sustainable. And it's even trying to offer more nutritious alternatives for those of us who must say no to Fritos.

In addition to those positive trends, Alyce thinks this stock is cheap, trading at 13 times forward earnings. To hear more about the case for PepsiCo, read the entire article.

Rising Star Buy: Qlik Technologies
This week, Sean Sun bought shares in Qlik Technologies (Nasdaq: QLIK), a provider of business-intelligence software, for his Dada portfolio. With stellar revenue growth and growing margins, Qlik is possibly a very attractive opportunity for investors.

Sean notes that in contrast to competitors such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), Qlik "designs its software to be easy to implement, use, and understand." This approach seems to be working, because the company has been able to grow revenue at a compound annual rate of 40% over the past two years. Using a quick and dirty valuation method, Sean suspects that this company may be worth twice as much as its trading for today. To learn more about his thinking, read the article.

Rising Star Buy: Starbucks
One of my dumbest investing decisions ever was to not buy Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) when it was trading at around $8 per share in the fall of 2008. I knew the shares were a steal at that price, but I just didn't do anything about it; I think there was some sort of market hiccup at that time that made me somewhat apprehensive. The company now trades for around $33 per share. My bad.

Despite this rise over the past two and half years or so, Rising Star Jason Moser bought shares of the iconic coffee company this week. He likes its plans for expansion in China and India and believes that "Starbucks has a brand for the ages." Read his piece to hear more about his long-term case for the company.

Rising Star Buy: W.R. Berkley
Want a great company at a cheap price? Rising Star Mike Olsen thinks he's found one in W.R. Berkley (NYSE: WRB), an insurance holding company with a long-term record of excellence. Mike believes the company is priced "as if it will create little value from today forward." This appears to be a great opportunity for investors looking for a "smart risk."

So why is the company so cheap? Well, one reason is that the insurance market has been soft of late. The still-recovering economy is another. Those trends will not continue forever, though, according to Mike. Now might be the time to take a chance on an extremely well-managed insurance company that is very well positioned to take advantage of improving business conditions. For more on this idea, read Mike's complete article.

Up
The market has been on a roll lately, and frankly, it's been a lot of fun. Three of our Rising Stock selections have seen more than 75% gains since they've been selected, according to Motley Fool CAPS. And two of our picks, Timberland (NYSE: TBL) and ION Geophysical, rose 30% and 23%, respectively in a single trading session yesterday.

Yes, we're aware that one-day returns need to be taken with a grain of salt. Ultimately, we're all about the long term here at Rising Stars. You can follow me on Twitter to get all the latest recommendations. And you can click the links below to follow the companies mentioned above.

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. See all of our Rising Star analysts (and their portfolios).

John Reeves owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in the article. The Fool, on the other hand, owns shares of all of the companies mentioned. Qlik Technologies is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Starbucks and Timberland are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on PepsiCo, which is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.