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: 


13-Week Price Change

Recent Share Price

Forward P/E Ratio

CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

American Oriental Bioengineering (NYSE:AOB)





Merck (NYSE:MRK)





Portfolio Recovery (NASDAQ:PRAA)





Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM)





United States Steel (NYSE:X)





Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE)





Data from Motley Fool CAPS, and Yahoo! Finance as of Aug. 3.

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

A closer look at Philip Morris International
In his recent monthly investment outlook, bond guru and PIMCO head Bill Gross declared:

There is no investment potion for this new environment other than steady income-producing bond and equity investments in companies with strong balance sheets and high dividend yields, as well as selectively chosen emerging market commitments where nominal GDP growth prospects are tilted upward as opposed to gravitating to new lower norms.

Strong balance sheets. High dividend yields. Select prospects in emerging markets. If that's the key to success in the years ahead, Philip Morris International has it made.

After a divorce from Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last year, Philip Morris International became liberated from the legal headaches and lethargic growth of the U.S. tobacco market. With this came the freedom to focus on countries that smoke like chimneys and are still growing at a rapid clip, such as China and Russia. But just like its former parent, Philip Morris International still gushes cash and pays a huge dividend.

Distinct from stocks tagged as having "international exposure," 100% of Philip Morris International's business is derived outside the U.S. Have a look:


Percentage of 2008 Operating Companies Income

European Union


Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa




Latin America & Canada




Other than the name and the stock listing, there's scarcely anything American about this company. Unpatriotic? Maybe. But, when coupled with the addictive nature of tobacco, it creates a cash-cow machine that's knee-deep in fast-growing markets and has a bright future -- something few American companies can claim these days. As CAPS member Grimsooth writes:

This part of Philip Morris should keep growing … Since this stock is not focused on internal US sales, I like it more than any Tobacco company that is most concerned with sales within the US, where smokers are generally vilified and ostracized. There may be some merit to that, which is why you should probably check your morals at the door if you intend to buy this stock.

The other big plus -- and perhaps the catalyst behind the recent gains -- is the diverse set of foreign currencies Philip Morris International does business in. As the U.S. dollar weakens, as it has of late, the value of this company's earnings power increases for dollar-denominated investors.

Your turn to chime in
Have your own take on Philip Morris International? 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.

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Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Philip Morris International and Altria Group. Philip Morris International and American Oriental Bioengineering are Motley Fool Global Gains recommendations. American Oriental Bioengineering and Portfolio Recovery Associates are Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations. The Fool owns shares of American Oriental Bioengineering, and has a disclosure policy.