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

II-VI (Nasdaq: IIVI)



W&T Offshore (NYSE: WTI)



Paramount Gold & Silver (NYSE: PZG)



The markets have overcome the decision by Standard & Poor's to revise the country's debt down, focusing instead on the big earnings reports companies turned in yesterday, with stocks jumping 115 points, or almost 1%. So stocks that went significantly higher are pretty big deals.

New frontiers in investing
The markets were laser-focused on II-VI yesterday after it turned in earnings that while in line with expectations provided guidance that outstripped Wall Street's forecasts. The maker of laser-related technology that's used for cutting, drilling, welding, and even certain military applications saw third-quarter profits more than double on higher sales of its infrared optics products, earning $23.1 million or $0.72 per share on $130 million in revenue.

However it's the future the market liked. II-VI said it expects fourth-quarter profits will come in somewhere between $0.68 and $0.73 per share on as much as $134 million in revenue. Analysts were only expecting $0.57 in profits with less than $128 million in sales.

II-VI was able to achieve these kinds of results primarily because the economy is getting a better footing so its customer roster, which includes the likes of Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC), are buying more. Yet there's also very little competition for II-VI's specialized niche, one of the reasons the Fool's Rex Moore picked the stock for his Rising Stars portfolio.

Last month CAPS member bizcbug7 noted the company's growing backlog of business, and while that's not necessarily an indicator for future sales, accelerating profits suggested a better future: "Earnings growth accelerating through past 3 Q's. Their bookings have doubled yoy. Cash 119M, debt 3.7M."

You can let us know on the II-VI CAPS page if you think investors will be singed by buying the laser maker now.

Not an uncommon occurrence
With the pop in W&T Offshore's stock yesterday, why, you'd think the Obama administration was actually opening the floodgates on oil drilling permits. The independent oil and gas explorer has most of its assets in the Gulf of Mexico and it's been hit hard by the administration's go-slow oil policies.

Well, the industry has no such luck on that front, though the door's been cracked open a little. Instead, it was a combination of a much better than expected earnings report coupled with an announcement it was buying more acreage in the Permian Basin.

W&T has been gearing up to have a bigger presence in natural gas. That actually worried investors early on since gas prices have been depressed and nat gas giants like Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) were trying to grow their own presence in oil. Getting in while others are getting out had investors concerned, but it seems the thinking now is everyone having a bit of exposure everywhere is a good thing.

While the stock's jump makes W&T much pricier than it was previously, anguijm believes oil and gas plays like W&T are just a better energy bet.

With nuclear fears renewed, it only makes sense to back natural gas companies with a safety record for the foreseeable future. Nukes are scary. Coal is dirty. Green energy is too expensive.

You can drill down further into the discussion on the W&T Offshore CAPS page and keep an eye on its progress by adding the stock to your watchlist.

Making a connection
Precious metals miner Paramount Gold & Silver couldn't have picked a better time to report new positive metallurgical results for its wholly owned San Miguel project in Mexico. Gold and silver are off the hook these days with the yellow metal over $1,500 an ounce and its gray cousin going for more than $45 (it hit $50 just the other day).

Paramount's mine is an extension of the world-class silver and gold Palmarejo mine owned by Coeur D'Alene Mines (NYSE: CDE), which, for the record, isn't happy about the "discovery," feeling it's more like someone reaching their hand into its pocket to take money from its wallet. It plans to "aggressively address" the situation in order to defend its property rights.

CAPS All-Star freeits says it's all about the precious metal: "Gold my friends, Gold - the time now is to invest!"

You can stay on top of the company's developments by adding the stock to the Fool's free portfolio tracker.

Going into orbit
That's why 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 reentry, or off to infinity and beyond.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.