"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 24,000 stock gurus (and counting) have to say about them?


One Year Ago Today

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating*

Sodexho (NYSE:SDX)




National Grid (NYSE:NGG)




MedcoHealth (NYSE:MHS)




Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS)




Quilmes Industrial  (NYSE:LQU)












*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.

"I'm in charge now"
In compiling today's list from the collection of stocks now hitting their 52-week highs, I've taken a couple of editorial prerogatives: First, in welcome to some of the newest members of the Fool community -- subscribers to the recently introduced Global Gains international investing newsletter -- I'm focusing on high-flying international stocks in particular.

OK, Mr. Haig. And second?
Yes, well, reviewing the resulting list, we find that individual investors don't exactly buy the Wall Street line on what stocks deserve to go up this week. Out of the seven companies named above, a clear majority receive below-average ratings from CAPS players. But that creates the dilemma of which of these disfavored stocks to profile as a potential fall-from-gracer. How to decide?

Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, catch a Volvo by the toe. If the brakes squeal, let 'er go. Eenie, meenie, minie, moe. Volvo, you're it.

The bear case on Volvo
Out of 73 Fools who have rated Volvo on CAPS, a majority love the company. But that's to be expected with any stock that's hitting its 52-week high. After all, (almost) everybody loves a winner. As for those who don't, here's what they have to say about what's left of Volvo (basically, trucks) since the 1999 sale of its car division to Ford:

  • Leading off with a pair of CAPS newcomers, we hear first from techman37, who thinks that homegrown Volvo rival Paccar is the "best of breed" in the heavy-truck space and therefore expects Volvo to underperform.
  • Meanwhile, jpgault3 gets more into the nitty-gritty of the business, warning that "emissions regs [for 2007] will drag down anyone & everyone related to diesel engines; at least for the upcoming year." Incidentally, that's a worry among even Volvo bulls such as lsxwcm, who also cautions that Volvo "may slow down in about a year."

But is a slowdown -- common knowledge to bears and bulls alike -- reason enough to "sell" Volvo? To my mind, it seems to me that anything this well known must be baked into the stock's price already. That said, Foolish minds can and do differ on the point -- what's your opinion? If you think Volvo or any of the other stocks on today's list are destined to fall, come on over to CAPS and tell us why (or if not, why not).

And if you're really worried about Volvo's diesel-related prospects, but you're still game to get into international investing, don't forget to check out the latest issue of Motley Fool Global Gains. Fellow Fool Nathan Parmelee has just highlighted a stock that's cut its diesel-related risks to the bone and is poised to prosper. Learn who it is when you claim your free trial subscription.

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 46 out of more than 24,000 raters. Paccar is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. National Grid is an Income Investor choice. The Fool has a disclosure policy.