People watch stocks for different reasons -- they're waiting for a dip in price, watching for a specific catalyst, gathering all the news and information that might affect stocks they already own, or considering a sell. Regardless of their motivation, we can better understand market sentiment by seeing who's watching what. With the Fool's free My Watchlist service, we have tens of thousands of people telling us the businesses that have, for whatever reason, piqued their interest.

With this data we have come up with a new metric, watch interest, to inform investors what stocks their peers keep tabs on in each industry. In the case of the communications-equipment industry, watch interest is the percentage of people keeping an eye on communications-equipment stocks in general who are specifically watching each company. By looking at what stocks people are most interested in within an industry, you can get ahead of the curve by finding hot stocks that you might have otherwise overlooked. The industry has seen some big changes, as new entrants have emerged to challenge market leader Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), which has also taken some heat from entering the server market.

The most-watched communications-equipment stock is ...
Looking at the aggregate data, we see that Cisco Systems is above the rest in terms of watch interest, and for good reason. As CAPS player Diws wrote last week:

Refocus on core competencies and simplifying byzantine management structure is welcome. Still undisputed industry leader; competition especially in core switching is nowhere near Cisco's level yet. Very cheap in the teens.

Here are the rest of the top 10 most-watched companies in the industry, with their watch interest and the stocks' CAPS rating to show the sentiment of our investing community.

Rank

Company

Market Cap (Millions)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Watch Interest

1 Cisco Systems $85,198 **** 63.1%
2 Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD) $4,522 **** 8.4%
3 Infinera (Nasdaq: INFN) $762 ***** 6.6%
4 Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR) $12,575 ** 5.7%
5 Brocade Communications Systems (Nasdaq: BRCD) $2,536 **** 5.4%
6 Acme Packet (Nasdaq: APKT) $3,776 ** 4.6%
7 Aruba Networks (Nasdaq: ARUN) $2,438 ** 2.5%
8 Procera Networks (AMEX: PKT) $152 ***** 1.0%
9 Extreme Networks (Nasdaq: EXTR) $303 *** 0.9%
10 Radware (Nasdaq: RDWR) $668 *** 0.7%

Sources: The Motley Fool, Motley Fool CAPS.

Whether you're keeping an eye on the industry stalwarts like Cisco or are watching an up-and-comer like Procera Networks, it pays to watch. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock-tracking service. Get started now!

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.