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:

  • American Capital Agency (Nasdaq: AGNC)
  • Bravo Brio Restaurant Group (Nasdaq: BBRG)
  • Pfizer (NYSE: PFE)

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?
When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac officially became wards of the state, mortgage REITs like American Capital Agency and Hatteras Financial (NYSE: HTS) were seen as something akin to a sure bet. Despite the housing industry still being in shambles, if there were any mortgages being issued they were being guaranteed by the very deep pockets of the U.S. taxpayer through these federal agencies, and American Capital and Hatteras were only invested in them.

Their performance has proven the rule. Over the past year, American Capital has risen 35% and Hatteras is up 31% compared to a 20% increase in the S&P 500. Even REITs that previously invested heavily in non-agency-backed securities are adding more Fannie and Freddie debt to their portfolios. Chimera Investment (NYSE: CIM) now has a quarter of its investments in agency-backed securities, more than double the rate it had just this past December. No doubt it's because there's no other game in town right now -- Fannie and Freddie guaranteed some 71% of all mortgages issued last year, and when you add in Ginnie Mae and the FHA, the government is guaranteeing virtually every single mortgage issued, or 97%!

Well, the shell game con that is Fannie Mae is back -- as in, back at the trough. It posted a $6.5 billion loss the other day, and it wants the taxpayer to cough up an additional $6.2 billion. If nothing else, it will hasten up the discussions over whether and when we need to wind down these monstrous beasts.

If that happens, it will jeopardize the large dividend payouts these REITs are paying, and it's those dividends that attract investors like CAPS member PRStew:

This is a stock with a solid dividend payout, an unbelievable asset to debt ratio and it's doing better and better consistently with no reason to go down significantly. Even if the stock doesn't go way up, the dividends still allow for lucrative profits in the meantime!

Let us know on the American Capital Agency CAPS page how long you think these REITs can sup at the taxpayers' trough.

Going to the well again
No, Bravo Brio Restaurant Group isn't a themed restaurant named after a John Wayne movie -- that's Rio Bravo, anyway -- it's instead a chain of Italian restaurants that competes against Darden Restaurants' Olive Garden and Brinker International's Romano's Macaroni Grill and Maggiano's themed outlets. With the restaurant industry reviving after a long drought, Bravo Brio believes diners are looking for upscale eateries offering casual dining prices, and it's expanding its restaurant themes.

According to the National Restaurant Association, its Restaurant Performance Index rose again in February, indicating continued health in the industry. That would seem to be underscored by the quarterly results reported by reservation specialist OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN), which saw a 59% increase in revenues as seated diners jumped 55%.

Bravo Brio is relatively new to the market, but there's bullish sentiment building behind the restaurant chain; 86% of the dozen or so CAPS members rating the Italian eatery believe it will outperform the market averages as do all of the handful of All-Stars who've weighed in.

You can follow along by adding Bravo Brio to the Fool's free portfolio tracker and see if the market is yelling "Bravo!" after it reports its quarterly earnings.

A sticky wicket
Pfizer is losing its blockbuster, Lipitor, to generic competition later this year, which ought to give investors pause about its decision to boost its share buyback program. Like Amgen, (Nasdaq: AMGN) which is establishing a dividend program (as well as buying back a mountain of shares), it amounts to little more than a bit of financial engineering that doesn't really fix the underlying issues with the companies.

Yet a catalyst for Pfizer's increasing value -- its stock is up almost 30% this year -- is the potential for the pharmaceutical giant to break off parts of itself to sell, a move Forbes says could value the whole at $180 billion. Whether that happens remains to be seen, though some analysts think the CEO has already made the decision, and that could help explain the stock's steady climb.

CAPS member pcstuck certainly thinks it may not be able to realize much more value enhancement:

P/E or 20ish makes this slow moving blue chip look more expensive. I don't see the value here, and with patents expiring in the near future, I just don't see them outperforming the market. While profits beat estimates, PFE was hit by a 2% decline in prescription drug sales. Plenty of other Pharma stocks out there that are more attractive.

You can see if it can further returns on investment 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.