We've all been sucker-punched as of late by two seriously ugly trends: economic decline and inflation.

With the GSCI Commodities Index up 14% so far this year and oil still trading near $115 a barrel, many investors are betting that energy prices are the obvious play right now.

Of course, there are many ways to win with energy, from buying energy-oriented exchange-traded funds like the Energy Select SPDR to high-yielding traditional oil and coal drillers like Chevron to fast-growing renewable energy technologies. Famed venture capitalist Ray Lane suggests that the solar industry could become 10 times bigger than the Internet, and my Foolish colleague Austin Edwards boldly calls it the next millionaire-maker megatrend.

I utilized our new CAPS screening tool to find out which traditional energy stocks and solar tech stocks the 115,000-member Motley Fool CAPS investing community is bullish on.

The stocks have:

  • Market capitalizations above $1.5 billion.
  • At least 300 active recommendations.
  • Four- or five-star ratings from our CAPS community.

Since we began tracking the eerily prescient collective intelligence of our CAPS investment community in November 2006, four- and five-star companies have outperformed, with average annualized gains of 7% and 12%, respectively.

Company

Share Price

Market Cap
(in billions)

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT)

$18.50

$25.0

BP (NYSE:BP)

$57.63

$180.6

Denbury Resources (NYSE:DNR)

$25.39

$6.3

ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM)

$81.18

$421.7

Grey Wolf (NYSE:GW)

$8.72

$1.6

Suntech Power (NASDAQ:STP)

$46.50

$7.2

Tesoro (NYSE:TSO)

$18.15

$2.5

Data from Motley Fool CAPS and Yahoo! Finance as of Aug. 28.

Of course, screens are merely a first step in the stock selection process. Hop over to CAPS to find information and analysis that will help you pick winners.

For three energy stocks Motley Fool analysts believe will profit from "The Next American Oil Boom," check out our brand-new free report. You'll get three stock ideas from top analysts, plus some straight talk on our oil "crisis." Click here for access -- it's free!

Ilan Moscovitz unfortunately owns no kittens nor any companies mentioned in this article. Suntech Power is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has a tortoise-shell disclosure policy.