Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. So why does the media focus so much attention on what Wall Street says about companies, instead of what it does with them?

Luckily for Wall Street watchers, the Internet brings us MSN Money's list of which companies the institutions are buying. True, we should be as skeptical of Wall Street's actions as we are of its words. But when the 97,000-plus lay and professional investors on Motley Fool CAPS agree with Wall Street's opinions, it just might be time for some buying.

Here's the latest edition of Wall Street's Buy List, alongside our investors' opinions of the companies involved:


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CAPS Rating
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Ascent Solar (Nasdaq: ASTI)



Solarfun (Nasdaq: SOLF)



First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR)



Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL)



Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ)



Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Up Last Month" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. Recent pricing also provided by MSN Money on the same date. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Burnt by the sun
It seems that Wall Street is hot for the sun once again. But what is it about our favorite gaseous orb, exactly, that caught Wall Street's interest this week? Are they buying up shares of suntan lotion manufacturers, perhaps? Developers of beachside real estate? Nope -- on closer inspection, all five of the Wall Street faves named above have solar power in common.

Unfortunately, they've got another thing in common, too: Main Street investors aren't interested in them. Not one of the stocks named above gets an above-average rating from CAPS players. Looks like the best we can do today is choose between a pair of mediocre-rated stocks: Ascent Solar and Solarfun. Which to pick? I'm going to follow my native curiosity and look at the one that's "new to me." While I've a passing acquaintance with Solarfun, I have to admit that I know Ascent by name only.

Care to join me as I learn more about the company from our panel of CAPS experts? Then come along and let's review ...

The bull case for Ascent Solar
We begin with an introduction to the company, courtesy of shawnehamilton last in September:

Ascent Solar ... is poised to become the leader in thin-film, monolithically integrated ... CIGS photovoltaics on flexible substrates. CIGS is an acronym for copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (diselenide), the key substances used in this technology ... The materials result in a product that is cheaper, lighter, and easier to use than traditional solar panels ... The US Air Force has already contracted with Ascent Solar and obviously has 'long-range' plans for this technology ... In the US military, Ascent has secured a serious, 'deep pockets' client.

Sound good so far? Well, tread warily, Fool. As CAPS player ennui cautioned in December:

[Ascent] is a developmental stage company -- no commercial products, no profits. Not unlike a biotech company, with worlds of promise, but no drug on the market. If their technology hits it big, this stock will go into orbit. If it fails -- well, it fails.

And yet, CAPS All-Star MarkusV argued in November that "this apparently overvalued company is run by some of the best guys in the business, has a very innovative product and is coupled with the giant Norsk Hydro, thus guaranteeing it future sales by integrating its PV sheets in buildings."

MarkusV's comments that Ascent looks overvalued have some validity. The company carries a market cap of $178 million despite bringing in just $1 million in revenues last year. Meanwhile, Ascent is burning cash, and has no profits whatsoever.

But Ascent does have a dream. As I see it, the key to its prospects appears twofold. First, by investing in "thin-film" photovoltaics, Ascent hopes its products will be more versatile than the solar panels currently being manufactured by most of the major players in this field. Second, by using CIGS to convert sunlight to electricity, Ascent aims to free itself from the supply constraints of firms like Suntech Power (NYSE: STP), for example, which need to buy polysilicon from suppliers like Hoku Scientific (Nasdaq: HOKU) in order to build their panels.

Time to chime in
Whether that dream is worth paying 178 times sales, though, is not for me to judge. On CAPS, that's where you come in. Click in and tell us what you think.

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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 1,382 out of more than 97,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.