When the clock's ticking down and the game's on the line, which of your teammates do you trust to sink a winning shot? Sure, you could dish the rock to your resident superstar -- but what if he's playing ice-cold at the moment? So you pass instead to the guy with the hot hand, the one who'll be deemed en fuego tomorrow on ESPN.

Momentum investors are looking for stocks in a similar state of sizzle. But momentum by itself will only get you so far. I prefer to find high-quality stocks that also have some positive inertia on their side. It's like kicking the ball out to your team's superstars when they do have a hot hand.

To find these league-leading winners, I cross-referenced a simple momentum screen with data from The Motley Fool's CAPS investing community. Each of the companies below is up 30% or more over the past year, now trades within 5% of its 52-week high, and has been rated highly by CAPS players.


12-Month Change

Percent Below 52-Week High

CAPS Rating

Monsanto (NYSE: MON)




Dolby Laboratories (NYSE: DLB)




Walter Industries (NYSE: WLT)




Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK)




Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD)




Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Capital IQ, and CAPS, as of Jan. 14.

At first glance, this sure looks like a high-quality group. But, as always, I highly advise taking a closer look before you throw a bounce pass toward any of these stocks.

A gas giant
Energy was certainly the place to be in 2007, and off the starting blocks of 2008, it doesn't look like a bad place to stash some money. Looking at the energy landscape, though, I feel most comfortable with one of the larger players, which should be well-positioned even if the energy industry starts losing altitude.

With a $19 billion market cap, Chesapeake is no Exxon (NYSE: XOM) or Chevron (NYSE: CVX), but it's no squirt, either. The company says it's the No. 1 independent natural gas producer in the U.S., and it's No. 3 if you include energy majors. And with well more than 240 operated and nonoperated drilling rigs, it's also the top driller in the U.S.

Philip Durell at the Fool's Inside Value newsletter made Chesapeake a newsletter recommendation, noting that the company has been very savvy over the past few years, acquiring land and smaller gas companies to build up its reserve base. Chesapeake has recently started delivering on the promise of its acquisitions.

The company isn't shy about telling investors what a good value it is. In its most recent investor presentation, it brags that it's a "great value to investors," trading at four times operating cash flow and 11.6 times earnings.

And management looks to be up to the task of further building this natural gas powerhouse. On CAPS, StockTrekkor highlights his confidence in the company's CEO:

Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward (before he left) took Chesapeake from a $50,000 start-up to a $14B company. While being one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, Aubrey is completely in this thing for the long haul, completely sold on his belief in the company and one of the most aggressive guys you'll ever run into. Chesapeake is the largest driller in the United States and well on the way to becoming the top producer of natural gas.

So does Chesapeake deserve a place on your all-star team? You can share your thoughts on it or check out more of what your fellow Fools have to say about it or any of the other stocks above by stopping by CAPS.

I think I heard a "booyah" somewhere out there -- thanks, Stuart Scott!

More CAPS Foolishness:

Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value recommendation, Dolby Laboratories is a Stock Advisor pick, and Walter Industries is a recommendation of Motley Fool Hidden Gems. You can try out any of the Fool's newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy has a 5'5'' vertical jump and can dunk from halfcourt. Or so I hear.