Investors are always hunting for the next big stock -- the dream stock whose price increases several times over when the market finally discovers it. It's easy to look back and discover the 10 best stocks of the past decade. But I'm more interested in the tools that can help me evaluate tomorrow's greatest companies.

Motley Fool CAPS offers a variety of resources to aid Fools in finding tomorrow's leaders. Our 145,000-member community is full of investors helping each other beat the market.

We'll enlist CAPS to screen for energy companies, then get the story behind some of its more highly rated stocks. CAPS' nifty screener will help us find stocks with:

  • A market cap of at least $100 million.
  • A three-year annual revenue growth rate of at least 20%.
  • A price-to-earnings ratio of no more than 25.

Then we'll tap the collective intelligence of our CAPS members to see whether these companies present real opportunities -- or whether the numbers fail to tell the true story.

Opinions with the numbers
Below is a sample of stocks our screen returned. You can run this screen yourself -- remember, though, that your results may differ from ours as the market changes.


Average Revenue Growth Rate,
Past 3 Years

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Hercules Offshore (NASDAQ:HERO)



Sasol (NYSE:SSL)



Noble (NYSE:NE)



Data and star rankings from CAPS as of Dec. 11, 2009.

Like peer Transocean (NYSE:RIG) and oilfield services companies like Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) and Baker Hughes, Hercules is coming off of a rough quarter that was affected by the contraction in capital spending for oil and gas exploration. The contract driller says it could continue to see weakness, but also believes the worst is past and has seen an uptick in domestic drilling bidding activity. And according to one Credit Suisse analyst who upgraded the company's stock last month, improving demand for jackups in the Gulf of Mexico and the inland-barge market could help give a boost to the company. Some CAPS members agree with that call and like the future demand potential for its rigs. As such, 96.5% of the 1,522 members rating Hercules expect it to beat the broader market.

Despite the brutal environment for energy companies right now, many CAPS members are particularly bullish on Sasol due to its strong balance sheet, solid dividend, and ability to produce liquid fuels through its proprietary technologies. The company has certainly been affected by lower commodity prices but has been able to conserve cash while pulling in positive free cash flow. It's making expansion efforts in multiple countries, forming partnerships with companies like Chevron, and looks to profit from potentially higher fuel prices in the future. And while ExxonMobil takes its plunge into unconventional plays with the purchase of XTO Energy, Sasol is teaming up with Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) and Statoil to search for shale gas in South Africa. In CAPS, 98.5% of the 1,676 members rating Sasol expect it to outperform the S&P.

Now is time for something truly different -- at a time when many oil and gas companies have struggled through weaker energy prices and pressured earnings, contract driller Noble showed strength in its latest quarter with growing earnings and revenue, helped by its strong backlog and newbuilds going into service. It's also scored some new contracts and extensions recently, such as with Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) keeping its deepwater rig until July, and placing a couple of other jackups with customers. The company has seen some recent increasing interest for jackup rigs, and CAPS members like Noble's strong position in deepwater drilling. Not surprisingly, close to 99% of the 2,015 CAPS members rating Noble are bullish.

Let 145,000 members be the jury
The collective wisdom of a huge pool of investors can help give context to a page of numbers from a stock screen. But individual investors are still the best judges of what to do with their own money. Fools should always perform their own due diligence.

Happily, it's easy to chime in with your own opinion. If you agree that these companies present dream opportunities -- or see more of a nightmare instead -- simply scroll down and add your thoughts in the comments box.

Motley Fool Global Gains is yet another Foolish resource to help you find promising investment opportunities beyond our borders. Check out what stocks have the international investing service beating the market by 13 points free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Dave Mock dreams of stocks and sugarplum fairies, but not together. He owns shares of ExxonMobil. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value recommendation. Sasol is both an Income Investor and a Global Gains selection. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy and XTO Energy. The Fool's disclosure policy screens the good, the bad and the ugly.