After taking a resounding beating after the 2000 market collapse, telecom stocks -- particularly foreign firms -- have seen quite a resurgence lately, as demand for new broadband and wireless services grow. But I can tell you tales of investments from another sector that's beating the pants off foreign telecom stocks ... and where you can find out more about them.

Would the real hot stocks please come forward?
The 5,300 stocks rated by our Motley Fool CAPS community include descriptive "tags" that group them with other firms sharing similar qualities -- a country of origin, a sector, or an end product, for example. Clicking the Telecom Services-Foreign tag reveals 63 stocks that, as a group, have risen an amazing 23.2% in the past year.

But CAPS tags can also lead you to a group of stocks that have outpaced even the robust returns of stocks in the foreign telecom group -- Aerospace/Defense Products & Services. The 58 companies under this tag have averaged an even more impressive 37.5% return in the past year.

Each group has its share of winners and losers, of course, but CAPS can be a great resource to zero in on potential opportunities in each area.

From macro to micro
You can sort tag groups by their CAPS ratings, from one to a maximum five stars, then see which players -- from Wall Street to Main Street -- are bullish or bearish on each company, and why. For instance, here are a few of the stocks in the Telecom Services-Foreign group.

Company

CAPS Rating

1-Year Performance

Telefonos de Mexico (NYSE: TMX)

*****

30.9%

China Telecom (NYSE: CHA)

****

39.3%

France Telecom

****

26.7%

City Telecom (Nasdaq: CTEL)

**

171.6%

Sources: Google Finance and Motley Fool CAPS, as of Jan. 3.

Now, here's a sampling of Aerospace/Defense Products & Services stocks that -- judging by the CAPS community's interest -- investors may want to consider.

Company

CAPS Rating

1-Year Performance

Honeywell (NYSE: HON)

*****

33.5%

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)

*****

17.4%

Astronics (Nasdaq: ATRO)

*****

147.5%

TASER  (Nasdaq: TASR)

***

78%

Sources: Google Finance and Motley Fool CAPS, as of Jan. 3.

Not rocket science
With a market cap of just $330 million, Astronics is a relatively small New York firm that builds lighting and power generation systems for commercial and military aircraft. Despite operating in what many consider a boring segment, sales at the company have been soaring lately, up 49% in the first nine months of 2007. Better yet, net income more than doubled, to $13.3 million.

The company is benefiting from increased orders from commercial airlines for new aircraft, as well as retrofits that include Astronics' in-seat power and cabin electronics systems. Additionally, Astronics sells lighting and power systems to the business jet segment, and its technology is built into new Very Light Jet (VLJ) products from the likes of Cessna and Eclipse.

Astronics' dramatic recent growth has made it a rocket stock lately. But even with a share price that has more than doubled this year, and an earnings multiple of 25, CAPS investors remain overwhelmingly bullish on the firm -- a near-unanimous 86 of the 87 All-Stars rating the company believe it will fly by the S&P going forward.

Stock shock
Taking defense down to a personal level, TASER has beat back much of the pessimism around the company this year, on its way to nearly doubling its stock price. The maker of stun guns for law enforcement, military, and even consumer use has had a storied history, filled with lawsuits over alleged lethal effects of stun guns used on people.

But ongoing litigation and the threat of regulation didn't stop TASER from turning in a shockingly great quarter recently, buoyed by sales to law enforcement and the U.S. military. While some CAPS investors are still wary of TASER's high valuation and product risks, nearly 90% of the top-rated All-Stars weighing in on the company believe shares will charge ahead of the S&P in the future.

Before you buy ...
Of course, investors shouldn't look to the rearview mirror to learn where they should be investing now. But the underlying reasons behind dramatic run-ups in stocks or groups of stocks can clarify macroeconomic trends that may significantly affect investments.

No matter where investing ideas come from, investors should always perform their own due diligence, rather than following crowds or individual recommendations.  

Controversial, game-changing companies like TASER is what the Motley Fool Rule Breaker service is all about. To see how the analyst team has found stocks that are beating the market by 19 points on average, take a free 30-day trial today.

When it comes to running long distances, Fool contributor Dave Mock says he lags more than he leads. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. France Telecom is an Income Investor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy beats all other disclosure policies, year-in and year-out.