For every stock out there screaming "buy me," others simply give us a nudge and a nod. While all the attention might be focused on their five-star peers, we can sift through Motley Fool CAPS to find four-star stocks giving us the "high sign" they're approaching greatness. 

These opportunities – including familiar names and beaten-down companies -- rank higher than most of the other 5,400 starred companies, and it pays to investigate their potential. For consideration today I've got this handful of stocks on their way to fame.

  • Atmel (Nasdaq: ATML)
  • Skechers (NYSE: SKX)
  • Tyco (NYSE: TYC)

As the 170,000-plus CAPS members have chosen these companies as less obvious sources for tomorrow's great buys, let's see why they might merit your attention.

In the sight of greatness?
Apple
will be reporting earnings this afternoon after the markets close, and unless iPad sales have somehow fallen into the toilet, it should be a pretty huge quarter. The iPad is the Helen of Troy of tablets, its introduction launching 1,000 imitations.

That should add up to awesomeness for touch screen maker Atmel, whose technology will power the latest generation of touch devices including tablets, mobile computers, netbooks, and notebooks. It has strong relationships with Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), and other makers of tablet computers and smartphone handsets. In fact, they might have an advantage over Apple in certain respects as their touch screens incorporates haptics, is the science of touch that lets you interact with your computer's virtual world. Apple's iPad does not.

There might be some other problems for Apple too. iPads may not be selling as well as everyone thought. As a result of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung, it revealed it's sold over 19 million iPads "by March 2011." Doing the math, some analysts think that means they might have shipped just a little more than 4 million iPads in the quarter, far less than the 6 million to 7 million expected. The question is, does "by" March 2011 mean February 28 or March 31? If the former, it doesn't include the iPad 2 launch; if the latter, it's probably some pretty dismal numbers no matter how you slice it.

Regardless, Atmel is positioned well within the industry that Apple has revolutionized and CAPS member cotom8405 sees some easy additional gains ahead: "co has solid pos in the touch screen chip segment. might be an acquisition target. see worth $15-$17 easily."

Let us know on the Atmel CAPS page at what price would you want to touch its stock.

Going to the well again
I actually bought Skechers stock for my portfolio precisely because its toning shoes were a fad and a flop. After all the ridiculous hype surrounding the sneaker, its stock has plummeted 55% from its 52-week highs. What a great time to get in on an otherwise sound business!

According to the analysts at UBS, sales of so-called toning shoes dropped 43% in March which followed a 23% decline in February and a 16% drop in January. The rate is accelerating and would challenge the ability of even global warming advocates to hide the decline. As a result of Skechers' focus on fads, Nike was able to increase its market share by 170 basis points in March (for the record, I covered my bases and own Nike stock too).

Now Skechers can return to doing what it does best, which is making popular sneaker styles. It still ranks among the largest sneaker makers behind Nike but at just 10 times earnings estimates, it's a minuscule valuation relative to its growth prospects. I view Skechers as having been unceremoniously tossed into the discount bin, much like where my mom used to buy plastic sneakers for me when I was a kid.

CAPS member armyinfantry07 agrees Skechers remains a good company at a good price, but you can follow along by adding it to the Fool's free portfolio tracker and see if the market still kicks it to the curb.

A sticky wicket
It's not so large and complex as General Electric, but diversified conglomerate Tyco still has three disparate businesses that represent significant shareholder value if unlocked.

One way that has been considered would be to spin off some of those ancillary services and focus on its primary fire and security business. Keeping it simple led it previously to spin off Covidien and sold its electrical and metal products segment to private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice. The flow control business for the oil industry would be attractive to someone.

But there are signs there's interest in buying up Tyco whole. Schneider Electric is said to be interested in it, but if they don't follow through, a natural successor would be United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), which has its own fire and security division. Regardless of how it goes, it seems there's plenty of value to be found in Tyco.

With 97% of CAPS All-Stars rating the conglomerate to outperform the broad market averages, it's likely they're seeing much of the same value propositions as these potential suitors. Glom onto the thoughts already share on the Tyco CAPS page and monitor the situation by adding it to your watchlist.

A great opportunity for you
Investor sentiment suggests these four-star investments still seem to be on their way to five-star greatness, but it pays to start your own research on these stocks on 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.

Sign up today for the completely free service and let us hear what you have to say about the great and almost great companies that interest you.

Covidien is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Apple and Nike are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Apple. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree 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 owns shares of Skechers, Nike, and Motorola Mobility but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his portfolio here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.