"The bigger they are, the harder they fall." This old saying sums up the worst nightmare of every homeowner, every gold buyer, and every investor in today's market. Dare ye buy at the top?

Every day, MSN Money publishes a list of the market's top stocks -- the companies whose shares have just hit their highest intraday price of any time in the past 52 weeks. Every day, investors read this list and tremble -- some with greed (big mo', baby!), and others in pure, unmitigated, acrophobic terror (whatever you do, don't look down).

Over on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors just like you are watching these same companies and voting their gut on whether they'll keep rising or stumble and fall. Usually, the ratings wax optimistic as stocks hit new highs -- because everyone loves a winner. But what do you make of it when some of the smartest investors out there are panning a hot stock?

You could heed them. You could ignore them. You could take the stock tickers and construct anagrams from 'em. For my money, though, the best course of action is to use the "52-Week Highs" list as just a starting point for further research. After all, stocks can go up for many reasons, and it's up to you to decide how worthy those reasons are. But thanks to Motley Fool CAPS, now you don't have to make the decision alone.

With that said, let's meet today's list of contenders, drawn from the latest "52-Week Highs" list at MSN Money. What does our panel of more than 20,000 stock gurus (and counting) have to say about them?


One Year Ago Today

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating

VimpelCom (NYSE:VIP)




Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN)




Siemens (NYSE:SI)




Pfeifer Vacuum (NYSE:PV)



Not Rated

Solvay SA



Not Rated

Five stars = highest possible CAPS rating; one star = lowest. Companies are selected from the "New 52-Week Highs" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

International investing
In honor of the Fool's new international-investing newsletter, Motley Fool Global Gains, I assembled today's list with the specific intent of giving it a bit of international flavor. As you can see, we've got companies from China to Belgium, Russia to Germany, and, um, Asslar to Munich. One thing that this disparate diaspora has in common: They're all hitting their 52-week highs.

Ordinarily, stocks hitting such heights are the cool kids on the block -- popular stocks sporting four and five stars from their adoring investor fans. Not today, however. Although VimpelCom and Focus Media are loved well enough, our lay analysts are highly skeptical about Siemens. And Pfeiffer and Solvay? Heck, we've never even heard of those two. (By the way, if you have heard of them, do a Fool a favor: Drop by CAPS and tell us a little bit about them, OK? We'd love to hear from you.)

In the meantime, let's take a look at Siemens -- a well-known name, but apparently not a well-liked name. When Siemens says, "We can do that," CAPS players respond, "Don't bother."

  • You might expect that with a name like "Eurotrader," a CAPS player would have a good grasp of a company's business. And you'd be right. Says this player: "As long as Siemens rewards managers for destroying business, this company is going nowhere. Watch out for more trouble in their communication branch. They got rid of mobile, but their ... 'fixed line communication' and 'traffic control systems' [divisions] are just as morose."
  • All-Star CAPS rater shirleyb123 concurs: "Profits are up but sales are down."
  • Fellow All-Star FlaxSeedOil agrees: "They bought UGS, need I say more?"

Actually, yes. I, for one, would love to hear more. For example, Siemens spent less than three times sales to acquire product-lifecycle-management software maker UGS. Was that an unreasonable sum to pay for a free cash flow-positive software firm? And Siemens made a strategic alliance in the telecom sector recently, tying up its infrastructure operations with those of rival Nokia (NYSE:NOK). Fewer competitors should mean more profits for everyone in that business, shouldn't it?

Time to chime in
Those aren't rhetorical questions. If you know the answers, share them with us on CAPS. Just click through, assign an underperform or outperform rating to Siemens (or any of the other stocks listed in today's table), and tell us why you think that way. At Motley Fool CAPS, your vote really does count -- and your reasoning does, too.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked 30 out of nearly 21,000 raters. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.