Picking a great stock can be extremely rewarding -- whether or not you're first to the party.

Titanium Metals, for example, has been a public company since 1996, but investors who took the plunge in 2003 when the stock was trading at around $0.50 (split adjusted) are up -- well, let's just say a whole lot.

It's a similar story with Google. Investors who bought the stock this time last year are up more than 25%. However, the ones who boarded the Google train at its 2004 IPO at the opening price of $100 are sitting on a gain above 500%.

The allure of buying an IPO has faded a bit since the dot-com era, but there's still that je ne sais quoi about being in on a great stock from Day 1. Investing in IPOs can be tricky, of course, since there's typically little information available about the company. And unless a bank outside the underwriting team decides to cover the stock, there won't be any analyst estimates to work off of.

Last year, IPOs like Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick Omrix Biopharmaceuticals showed us why it's still great to catch a winner at the open. Others, like Vonage, reminded us that you can still lose big.

The Motley Fool's investing community, CAPS, helps make new stocks more transparent by allowing investors to share their thoughts and outlooks for recent IPOs as well as more than 5,000 other stocks.

Here are a few recent IPOs:

Stock

Return From
IPO Offer Price

Total
CAPS
Ratings

CAPS
Bulls

CAPS
Rating

athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN)

154.2%

70

64

***

China Architectural Engineering (AMEX:RCH)

128.3%

68

29

*

LongTop Financial Technologies (NYSE:LFT)

27.3%

48

41

**

Giant Interactive Group (NYSE:GA)

(4.0%)

99

95

****

Noah Education (NYSE:NED)

(22.4%)

66

59

***

Source: IPOHome and CAPS as of Nov. 19.

I highly recommend that you visit CAPS and read for yourself what CAPS players are saying about these offerings. In the meantime, here are some thoughts on China's Giant Interactive:

China fun
China may not be all fun and games, but the country's online gaming industry has made a splash on U.S. stock markets. Rule Breakers picks NetEase.com (NASDAQ:NTES) and Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA) are leaders in the industry, and although new competition seems to be continually cropping up in this lucrative area, these two are both highly rated in CAPS.

Founded in 2004, Giant Interactive is a relative newcomer that started strong. Launched in January 2006, its first internally developed game, ZT Online, was the most popular game in China for that year, according to International Data Corp. It will be interesting to see how investors handle Giant in the months following its debut -- results from many of its competitors lately have been well short of snappy.

CAPS player capsoregime gave Giant a thumbs-up in a positive view of the combination of a China-based company working in the online gaming industry. capsoregime did, however, note that China and online gaming are "probably going to be bubbles and implode one day [despite] great year or two prospects."

Do you have some thoughts on these IPOs? Head to CAPS and help them earn their stripes. While you're there, you can read more of what more than 74,000 CAPS members have written on the 5,000-plus stocks currently rated.

Omrix, NetEase, and Shanda are Rule Breakers selections. Find out which companies David Gardner thinks are breaking the rules today with a free, 30-day trial of the Rule Breakers.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares in any company mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy never breaks any rules -- but then again, that's what it gets paid for.