Short-sellers and hedge funds, though sometimes shadowy, are often seen as the smartest guys in the room. They did their homework and will bet their capital against the crowd. It's not the most popular way to go, but the rewards can be quite lucrative.

On Motley Fool CAPS, we've got our own brand of analysts who found the chinks in a company's armor and correctly called its fall. "Underdogs" are investors who earned 100 or more CAPS points correctly predicting a stock would underperform the market.

Let's look at some of the recent calls these All-Star investors have made. Yet, just as hedge fund operators don't always go short, we're going to look at recent underdog picks no matter which way they've called them.

Underdog

Member Rating

Company

CAPS Rating (out of 5 max)

Call

TDRH

100.00

Apache (NYSE:APA)

*****

Outperform

OOji

100.00

Tanzanian Royalty Exploration (NYSE:TRE)

**

Underperform

BullMarketN09

99.98

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL)

****

Underperform

Flitt12

99.97

Penn West Energy (NYSE:PWE)

*****

Outperform

freunddoggy

99.94

Clean Energy Fuels (NYSE:CLNE)

*****

Outperform

Not every short sale goes as planned, so it's a risky position to hold. Stock prices can be irrational longer than you have money to stay in the game. So don't use this as a list of stocks to sell or buy, but rather as the launching pad for further research.

Underdogs still wag their tails
The world is unable to slake its thirst for oil despite the promise of alternative energy, and Halliburton provides services to the oil industry. Halliburton bought a reservoir-mapping company from Carbo Ceramics (NYSE:CRR), helping it enhance oil and gas recovery. CAPS member Champ4870 seemed to presage the purchase when he wrote of the need for advances in technology.

The world [will] continue to drill for [oil] and gas. In addition there will be [continuing] need for advances in drilling technology and devices that control the distribution of the commodity.

The volatility in the price of oil is wreaking havoc with Penn West Energy's results for the quarter because of the company's heavy hedging activities. Penn West was roundly criticized by investors for hedging 40% of oil and gas production, but management says hedging is necessary for the long-term health of the trust. CAPS member kshepheard agrees, saying that despite the nature of prices, the trust's underlying fundamentals remain sound.

Drastic change in crude prices have hammered this stock lately. Still has strong fundamentals and solid monthly dividend. If the stock gets too cheap look for a buyout. It is one of the largest Energy trusts in North America and with the ensuing energy crisis their reserves will remain in high demand.

Apache is yet another oil and gas producer that has been rocked by declines in prices, and though the increasing amount of natural gas in store also caused Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) to fall, investors like CAPS member Tasquatch look past the short-term nature of such inputs and instead concentrate on the stability of the financials.

Apache is a fundamentally solid company with an improving EPS, consistent sales growth, and is conservatively managed. As of 7/28/08, its stock price is down 38% from its annual high which follows the sector trend and is not a result of the company's performance. The stock price should begin moving upwards with an anticipated gain of 15-20 percent over the next six months.

For a different spin on energy, Clean Energy Fuels uses natural gas to power automobiles. It has a couple of high-profile backers -- T. Boone Pickens and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- that give it a greater chance of advancing than it might otherwise have. CAPS member HisPix sees Clean Energy Fuels getting out front with a string of natural-gas filling stations.

Largest supplier of natural gas stations. As the country shifts to natural gas for its autos(and it will) this company will be in the forefront to set up service stations across the country. T.Boone Pickens a large stockholder.

There's no need to fear ...
When underdogs have their backs against the wall, that's when they can shine their brightest, but it pays to start your research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made -- all from a stock's CAPS page. Then don your superhero cape and write what you think: Your opinion can still save the day.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Carbo Ceramics but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value recommendation. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.