Think of investor sentiment as a pendulum that swings in tandem with a company's share price. When investors begin to think highly of your company, its stock might also start heading in the right direction. Alas, you can rarely tell when investors are warming to a stock until after it's made that upward swing.

An astrolabe for investors
But Motley Fool CAPS' proprietary ratings, aggregated from the opinions and accuracy of 100,000-plus investors, offer a great way to monitor investor sentiment. Like astronomers scanning the skies, investors can follow a stock's stars through its CAPS rating trend, tracking investor sentiment to help determine the best time to invest. Let's look at one- or two-star-rated companies that have recently enjoyed a bump up in investor confidence, and see whether the stars are really aligning for them.


CAPS Rating
(5 max)

Recent Price

1-Year Return

True Religion Apparel (Nasdaq: TRLG)




PC Mall (Nasdaq: MALL)




Dynavax Technologies  (Nasdaq: DVAX)




Affymetrix (Nasdaq: AFFX)




Cenveo (NYSE: CVO)




Obviously, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- it's a starting point for further research. Yet if some of the best investing minds are taking notice of these stocks, maybe we should too. 

The world is your mall
Even though the PC industry keeps hearing that it has one foot in the grave these days, companies continue to crop up that seem to defy that notion. PC Mall, the huge direct marketer of products ranging from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) to Hewlett-Packard and just about every Silicon Valley company in between, reported earnings the other day that had earnings per share soaring 50% on a 31% increase in revenues.

PC Mall has made a number of smart acquisitions that sought to improve the value-added component of its offerings. Many other direct marketers have been doing the same to bolster their sales chains. For example, Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) bought ASAP Software last year, which was one of the top Microsoft large-account resellers. CDW bought Berbee Networks, and then was acquired itself by private equity.

More than a year ago, PC Mall acquired Government Micro Resources to give itself a platform of Sun Microsystems products, and last August, it bought SARCOM, a systems support provider. The industry consolidation and broadening of the company's product line and expertise has helped PC Mall turn itself around, particularly in the eyes of investors.

The SARCOM acquisition helped convince CAPS investor coolseagle that PC Mall was generating sufficient cash flow to fund its business, along with a number of other positive factors last December:

-PC Mall acquired SARCOM in a $55m deal. Simple rationale is that company must be doing good at cashflow end to take up such an endeavor.
-Major holder is pushing for 10% stock buyback. Again, this is a positive sign.
-Apple's products are selling like hot cakes, and Mall being a direct reseller, got to benefit from it, same with Sun's servers.

That Apple connection made another CAPS player, MPOWERD, want to take a bite out of PC Mall early this year:

Mac Mall should be able to ride Apples novelty for the next few years. PC Mall who owns Mac mall is the 1 U.S. direct marketing reseller of Apple computers.

Shine your starlight
Does PC Mall still compute? We haven't yet heard from you, and at Motley Fool CAPS, every investor's opinion counts. Your voice could determine whether these stocks become shooting stars or supernovas. Since it's free to sign up and post your thoughts, why not use this opportunity to take your star turn?

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection, and Dell is a former pick. Dell is also an Inside Value pick. Shine a light on 30 days of free stock picks with any Fool investment service.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.