On some market days, news headlines are dominated by individual stocks whose shares have soared over the past year. Other times, investors are bombarded with statistics of how an entire group of stocks -- from a country, sector or industry -- has outpaced the general market.

Chinese stocks, as a group, have certainly had their share of the spotlight lately. Thanks to a booming economy and a growing base of investors with access to the domestic market, the world's most populous nation is now home to some of the best-performing stocks.

But I know another region whose companies are collectively beating the pants off Chinese stocks ... and where you can find out more about them. Read on.

Would the real hot stocks please come forward?
By using Motley Fool CAPS, investors can get detailed information and community intelligence on not only individual stocks, but entire sectors, regions, or industries as well.

Any of the 5,100 rated stocks profiled in CAPS can be "tagged" with a descriptor that groups the company with others sharing a certain quality, such as a country of origin, sector, or industry. A single click on the "China" tag pulls up a list of 107 Chinese stocks that -- as a group -- have risen an astounding 50.5% in the past year.

Using tags in CAPS, I've found a group of stocks in one region of the world that has more than doubled the China group's returns: Greece. The one-year return of the 17 companies under the Greece tag is an even more eye-popping 122.6%. Granted, there are far fewer companies making up this group, and the reasons behind the huge growth could be quite different. Thankfully, CAPS can help us dig under the surface here, too.

From macro to micro
Tag groups can quickly be sorted by their CAPS star rank, from one to a maximum five stars. Users can also view individual companies, seeing exactly who -- from Wall Street to Main Street -- is bullish or bearish on the company, and why. For instance, here are a few of the highest-rated stocks in the China group, and their individual performance in the past year.

Company

CAPS Rank

One Year Performance

China Fire & Security Group

*****

407%

China Mobile (NYSE:CHL)

*****

130%

China Medical (NASDAQ:CMED)

*****

78%

Mindray Medical (NYSE:MR)

*****

102%

American Dairy

*****

56%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS and Yahoo!, as of Nov. 4, 2007.

Similarly, here's a sampling of Greek-tagged stocks that -- like an overstuffed gyro -- investors can't get enough of:

Company

CAPS Rank

One-Year Performance

National Bank of Greece (NYSE:NBG)

*****

48%

Navios Maritime

*****

212%

Diana Shipping (NYSE:DSX)

****

188%

Quintana Maritime (NASDAQ:QMAR)

****

155%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS and Yahoo!, as of Nov. 4, 2007.

A bit more digging in CAPS shows that shipping companies make up the bulk of investments in the Greece tag, contributing heavily to the group's outsized gains. Dry-bulk shippers in particular, many of which are based in Greece, have had a huge run in recent years, thanks to soaring freight rates from a surplus of demand an a shortage of supply. Coincidentally, much of the demand for shipping capacity is driven by demand for raw materials to support China's infrastructure growth.

More than a few investors have argued that the shipping boom leaves many stocks in a precipitous position, though. These highly valued stocks could retreat if shipping rates fall. But many shipping companies see no end in sight for demand from growing nations such as India and China.

The stocks from our China tag, on the other hand, are more diversified across industries such as medicine, communications, and metals. And while companies such as China Mobile and China Medical continue to see amazing growth, more than a few highly rated CAPS investors have expressed similar concerns about the valuation of many Chinese stocks.

Before you sell ...
Of course, investors don't want to be looking in the rear-view mirror to determine their current investments. Still, the underlying reasons behind dramatic run-ups in stocks or groups of stocks can help investors better understand macroeconomic trends that may significantly impact investments.

Wherever investing ideas come from, investors should always perform their own due diligence on companies, rather than simply following crowds or individual recommendations. In fact, you may completely disagree with some or all of the underlying reasoning given in this article, which is fine; there's always room to give your own opinion in Motley Fool CAPS. Best of all, it's free!

Mindray Medical got the nod as a market-beater from our Motley Fool Rule Breakers service. To see all the stocks that have helped the service beat the S&P by more than 24 points on average, check out a free 30-day trial.

When it comes to long-distance running, Fool contributor Dave Mock finds himself lagging more than leading. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Mindray is a Rule Breakers recommendation. National Bank of Greece is an Income Investor recommendation. Finally, China Mobile is a past recommendation of Global Gains. The Fool's disclosure policy beats all other disclosure policies, year in and year out.