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After holding a three-star rank for the past several months, enough top-performing CAPS members have turned bullish on MercadoLibre (Nasdaq: MELI) recently to upgrade it back to a more formidable four stars. A total of 829 members have given their opinion on the online trading firm, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

As global markets claw their way toward some sense of normalcy, CAPS members like the long-term prospects for MercadoLibre and its position in emerging markets. MercadoLibre is often described as the Latin American eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), and investors see big growth potential for the company as more consumers make online purchases.

While Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and traditional retailers like Wal-Mart Stores' (NYSE: WMT) walmart.com continue to show amazing growth in the U.S., MercadoLibre is focused on countries to the south and recently knocked down another quarter of strong growth. It reported a 47% sales increase in the fourth quarter, with full-year 2009 earnings jumping 77% over 2008. The company sold 47% more items on its site, the seventh consecutive quarter of accelerating growth in this metric.

MercadoLibre's payments business, similar to how PayPal facilitates Visa (NYSE: V) and other online payments, saw transactions more than double over the prior year. Such rapid growth always lures in competition from big sharks, of course, but MercadoLibre shows no sign of letting up, as the stock's big run in the past year has outpaced that of other Internet stocks like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) or Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO).

The lofty premium that MercadoLibre shares have commanded led to a sizable sell-off recently, but many investors are looking further into the future and see big, long-term potential.

Do you think MercadoLibre deserves its raised status? Add your thoughts in the comments box below on this page, or head over to CAPS to rate the company.

Always looking ahead, the Motley Fool Rule Breakers service has identified MercadoLibre as one of the next generations' big winners. To see what other rule-breaking stocks David Gardner is recommending now, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock recently upgraded his pen collection with a svelte erasable black. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value selection. Google and MercadoLibre are Rule Breakers picks. Amazon.com and eBay are Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on eBay. The Fool's disclosure policy is even better than a warm blanket and hot cup of cocoa by the fire.