Investors are always hunting for the next big stock -- the dream investment whose price increases several times over when the market finally discovers it. It's easy to look back and discover the 10 best stocks of the past decade. But I'm more interested in the tools that can help me evaluate tomorrow's greatest companies.

Motley Fool CAPS offers a variety of resources to aid Fools in finding tomorrow's leaders. Our 130,000-member community is full of investors helping each other beat the market.

We'll enlist CAPS to screen for growth companies, then get the story behind some of its more highly rated stocks. CAPS' nifty screener will help us find stocks with:

  • A market cap of at least $500 million.
  • A trailing three-year earnings-per-share growth rate of at least 25%.
  • A trailing three-year revenue growth rate of at least 30%.
  • A price-to-earnings ratio of less than 25.

Then we'll tap the collective intelligence of our CAPS members to see whether these companies present real opportunities -- or whether the numbers fail to tell the true story.

Opinions with the numbers
Below is a sample of stocks our screen returned. You can run this screen yourself -- remember, though, that your results may differ from ours as the market changes.


EPS Growth Rate, Past 3 Years

Revenue Growth Rate, Past 3 Years

CAPS Rating (out of 5)





Cognizant Technology Solutions (NASDAQ:CTSH)




Southwestern Energy (NYSE:SWN)




Data and star rankings from CAPS as of March 6.

Like competitor Joy Global (NASDAQ:JOYG), mining equipment maker Bucyrus reported a profitable fourth quarter. Sales jumped a solid 31.7% in Q4, but the 55.3% jump in full-year revenue for 2008 was even more impressive. Bucyrus also increased its backlog for the year by 73.6%, to $2.5 billion, and it expects $1.7 billion of that to be recognized within the next 12 months. 

While many investors await the stabilization and recovery of commodities markets, Bucyrus expects strong cash flow in 2009, and the company stands ready to make acquisitions that can help it grow revenue and earnings. Nearly 98% of the 988 CAPS members rating Bucyrus expect it to outperform the market.

A spending slowdown could hurt technology companies like Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY) and Cognizant. Nonetheless, the latter IT outsourcing company grew fourth-quarter sales by 25.5% and earnings by 16.7%, and it still maintains a strong balance sheet. While Cognizant said that short-term pressure could hurt product pricing for now, it nonetheless anticipates a strong second half of 2009. 

Cognizant helps clients improve business performance and efficiency, which is high on many companies' to-do lists. It's also managed to minimize its own costs by employing most of its workers in India. Many CAPS members are bullish on the upside potential of the stock; nearly 97% of the 904 members rating Cognizant expect it to beat the market.

Southwestern Energy
Natural gas E&P firm Southwestern Energy increased its year-end 2008 proved reserves by 51%, with big additions coming from its Fayetteville shale play. It expects big things to come from Fayetteville, with improved drilling practices expected to increase production by about 70% year over year in 2009. 

Despite a 14% decline in realized gas prices, growth in production volumes drove a 46% increase in fourth-quarter earnings to $104 million, with full-year 2008 net income more than doubling from the prior year. The company also has an untouched $1 billion credit facility and almost $200 million in cash to wait out the volatile commodity environment.

Gas producers such as Southwestern, Devon (NYSE:DVN), and XTO (NYSE:XTO) are far off their 52-week highs, but analysts expect Southwestern to achieve annual growth in excess of 40% over the next five years. Many CAPS members like the combination of cheap shares and a solid outlook for natural gas; nearly 96% of the 777 members rating Southwestern Energy are bullish on the stock.

Let 130,000 members be the judge
The collective wisdom of a huge pool of investors can help give context to a stock screen's page of numbers. But even with an entire community of qualified opinions acting as the judge, individual investors are still the jury. Fools should always perform their own due diligence.

Run your favorite factors through the Motley Fool CAPS screener. It's totally free, and we think you'll like the results.

Fool contributor Dave Mock dreams of stocks and sugarplum fairies, but not together. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. The Fool's disclosure policy screens the good, the bad, and the ugly.