No one has perfect foresight, but let's be honest: The market is full of people who, as Oscar Wilde would say, know "the price of everything and the value of nothing." Far too often -- over the past year, especially -- investors have been pitched sensational stock recommendations, only to be left high and dry as shares crumble.

To hunt down top-recommended stocks that have been rewarding investors accordingly, I summoned our Motley Fool CAPS community to point out a few four- or five-star stocks that have been shootin' for the moon in recent months.

While not formal buy recommendations, these three-month bloomers caught my attention:


Price Change

Recent Share

Forward P/E

CAPS Rating  
(Out of 5)

Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG)





Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)





Mosaic (NYSE:MOS)





Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU)





Teck Resources (NYSE:TCK)





Data from Motley Fool CAPS, and Yahoo! Finance. Price change from April 24 through July 24.

You can rerun the CAPS screen I used by clicking here.

A closer look at Intuitive Surgical
Intuitive Surgical caught many people's attention after shares fell more than 75% from their April 2008 high. The attraction was clear: Intuitive's enviable business model incorporates insanely high barriers to entry, recurring revenue, a cash-rich balance sheet, and vast growth potential with its one-of-a-kind robotic surgical devices. In March, shares traded for about 18 times earnings, which looked enticing when you backed out excess cash on the balance sheet and gawked at forward earnings projections (shown below).






EPS Estimate





Source: Capital IQ, A division of Standard & Poor's.

Then, along with the rest of the market, shares enjoyed a powerful rebound. So powerful, in fact, that some questioned whether the window of opportunity might be slamming shut. As my colleague Brian Richards wrote in April:

Warren Buffett has famously said, "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price." I believe Intuitive is a wonderful company. Prospective investors will have to decide whether 24.6 times earnings -- its current multiple -- constitutes a "fair price."

Today, with shares at a sky-high 34 times forward earnings, the meaning of a "fair" valuation is running out of oxygen. This brings up a point reminiscent of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) at $700 a share and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) during the dot-com boom: Yes, this is a phenomenal company with the world ahead of it. But is it worth the price?

I'm inclined to say "possibly," with a heavy lean toward "no." CAPS member watchmesoar explained this thinking last week, writing: "Any investment put into this company at this price is surely going to underperform the market. The great results of this company have already been priced in."

And that's just it: Investors would be wise to question Intuitive Surgical today, not because its business potential is threatened -- it's most certainly not -- but because, at 34 times forward earnings, shares likely already reflect every dime of potential that may lie ahead.

This is accentuated today, since -- despite the rally -- bargains can still be found elsewhere in the market. Great companies with strong moats are trading for attractive, sometimes single-digit, multiples. There's no reason investors should invest money with fingers crossed and optimism at full throttle, hoping, praying, and guessing that a stock trading at 34 times earnings will eventually pay off.

There are good deals in today's market. This ain't one of 'em. 

Your turn to chime in                                                 
Have your own take on Intutive Surgical? More than 135,000 investors use CAPS to share ideas and swap opinions. Click here to check it out and speak your mind. It's 100% free to participate.

For related Foolishness:                                                                        

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Intuitive Surgical and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. Microsoft and Pfizer are Inside Value picks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.