Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. So why does the media focus so much attention on what Wall Street says about companies, instead of what it does with them?

Once upon a time, we didn't know what the bankers were up to. Now, thanks to the folks at, it's easy to keep tabs on the stocks that financial institutions buy and sell. And the 170,000-plus lay and professional investors on Motley Fool CAPS can lend us further insight into whether these decisions make sense.

Here's the latest edition of Wall Street's Buy List, alongside our investors' opinions of the companies involved.


Recent Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Woori Finance Holdings (NYSE: WF) $36.33 ****
US Gold Corp (NYSE: UXG) $5.74 ***
Paramount Gold and Silver (NYSE: PZG) $3.30 ***
Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL) $36.51 ***
Capstone Turbine (Nasdaq: CPST) $1.65 ***

Companies are selected based on past-three-month changes in institutional ownership, as reported on Recent price provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Wall Street vs. Main Street
Up on Wall Street, the professionals think these five stocks are the greatest things since sliced bread. And by "bread," I mean money.

  • They're cheering FBR's upgrade of Capstone Turbine and betting on "strong 30%+ volume growth."
  • They're betting Goldman Sachs is right about Universal Display and its potential for 60% annual revenue growth over the next five years.
  • And they're following John Paulson deep into the gold mine, buying Paramount and US Gold in hopes of cashing out at "$4,000 an ounce" in a few years' time.

And if that's their plan, then more power to 'em. But Fools aren't quite convinced yet that Wall Street knows where it's going. For the most part, the three-star ratings you see suggest that CAPS members are still sitting on the fence, holding wetted fingers in the air, and checking which way the wind blows -- in all cases but one. When it comes to South Korea's Woori Finance, Fools are trusting that Wall Street's bankers know a good bank when they see one. Let's find out why, as we examine …

The bull case for Woori Finance Holdings
All-Star investor dragonLZ introduced us to Woori late last year as "a financial holding company in Korea with the subsidiary companies in banks, credit card companies, investment companies, securities companies, trust companies, F&I and financial information system companies."

Sound like anyone you know? I'll give you a hint. Back in 2007, CAPS member dustbusterz mentioned to us that Woori "may be making a 50-50 partnership with Merril Lynch." That note may have led, ultimately, to fellow CAPS member tommyboy1969's decision to call Woori "the Goldman Sachs of Korea."

Close, but no cigar
Actually, though, although the Goldman analogy isn't far from the mark, Woori's strategic relationship makes it sound to me a lot more like a Korean Bank of America (NYSE: BAC). Of course, there's the niggling detail that B of A is currently unprofitable, while Woori is anything but. So perhaps a better analogy is to Citigroup (NYSE: C). Both bankers have low single-digit returns on assets and on equity. Both sport impressive operating profit margins, Woori having a distinct advantage over Citi in this regard. And of course, the two banks' price-to-book value ratios are almost identical -- 0.65 for Citi, 0.67 for Woori.

Don't Woori, be happy
Another respect in which Woori resembles the too-big-to-fail American banks can be found in an item that appeared on the Nasdaq's website earlier this year: "Giants like Woori are already helping out in the bailout process, grabbing $44 million in bonds from failed banks and pondering outright absorption of at least one of them."

When you consider that the U.S. solution to "too big to fail" was to make its big banks even bigger and widen their advantages over smaller banking concerns, I have to wonder whether Woori's success isn't already written on the subway walls and tenement halls of NYC.

But what do you think? Tell us on Motley Fool CAPS.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares of, nor is he short, any company named above, but Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Universal Display. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 449 out of more than 170,000 members.

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 Fool has a disclosure policy.