Resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you. Your stock may have just strapped on a rocket pack and taken off for the moon, but smart investors won't celebrate until they know that upward leap was justified. Without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks can quickly make the return trip down.

Is now the time to lock in profits, or is this just the first step toward even higher valuations down the road? Let's examine several stocks that just hit the afterburners, and see whether they're truly headed into orbit.


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Yesterday's Change

Sonus Networks (Nasdaq: SONS)



Zion Oil & Gas (NYSE: ZN)



Allied Nevada Gold (NYSE: ANV)



In like a lion, out like a lamb? The market started off March with a mauling, dropping 168 points or almost 1.4% as the situation in the Middle East spiraled out of control. It's an inauspicious start for a month known for madness, making stocks that climbed strongly by larger percentages even bigger deals.

New frontiers in investing
The superior performance Sonus Networks turned in this past quarter wasn't the only catalyst that sent its stock soaring. Its improved situation once more revived the theory that it would be an excellent acquisition target for Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), which also helped to push shares higher.

The VoIP products maker's operations were exemplary. After timing issues caused investors to worry about its future in the previous quarter, the orders hit the financials this time around, boosting results that landed $27 million beyond what Wall Street was anticipating. The profits Sonus generated outstripped the analysts' projected loss. Since the sector hasn't been a particular hotbed of growth, Sonus needs to steal share from Acme Packet (Nasdaq: APKT) or Cisco.

That leads to the inevitable rumor that Cisco will want to acquire Sonus to help bolster its own efforts, particularly at a time when critics are complaining about Cisco's performance. With 94% of CAPS members rating Sonus to outperform the broad market averages, they obviously expect it to dial up further gains in the future. Let us know in the comments section below or on the Sonus Networks CAPS page whether it can win by going it alone, or whether it needs a Cisco-type suitor to prop it up.

A clean sweep
Zion Oil & Gas may sound a bit crazy at times, relying as it does upon its reading of the Bible to suggest that the company will find oil in Israel (note I say will, not may). But as I've said before, there's oil surrounding the country, so there's no reason to believe that pockets of black gold or gas refuse to cross some arbitrary geopolitical boundary.

While there didn't seem to be any specific news to cause Zion to jump yesterday, ATP Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: ATPG) is about ready to start exploring off the coast of Israel, and both Shell Oil and Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) just got permits themselves to do so. If these more pragmatic oil and gas companies are expecting to hit it big there, Zion may be on to something, too.

Still, we can't be sure whether Zion is looking in the right places, or whether it has the wherewithal to successfully bring its search to fruition. It has a long history of doing the exact opposite. You can add Zion to your watchlist to keep track of all of our Foolish coverage on the company. Then head over to the Zion Oil & Gas CAPS page and let us know if it had the right idea all along.

The sky's the limit
Allied Nevada Gold produced an excellent fourth-quarter earnings report, revealing that revenues from gold and silver nearly doubled, and that the company expected to further boost gold production through at least next year.

CAPS member likesmoney said about a month ago that he expected the softness gold was experiencing at the time to correct itself, offering a prime time to get back in; that was before the Middle East ignited, further fueling investors' desire for stable holdings like gold. Add Allied Nevada Gold to the Fool's free portfolio tracker to stay on top of all the developments coming out of this junior miner, and see whether it can capitalize on the global tumult while improving its own inner workings.

Going into orbit
It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS, where you can read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made, all from the stock's CAPS page. Then you can decide for yourself whether your stock's headed for re-entry, or off to infinity and beyond.

Acme Packet is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. The Fool owns shares of Noble. Motley Fool Alpha owns shares of Cisco Systems. 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.