Some companies are obviously great investments -- in hindsight. Yet for every stock out there screaming "buy me," others simply give us a nudge and a nod. How can we tell tomorrow's obviously great investments from the thousands of pretenders?

The stars' walk of fame
On Motley Fool CAPS, these opportunities can be found among our four-star stocks. In CAPS' proprietary ratings system, they rank higher than most of the other 5,300 starred companies, but they're just shy of superstardom. While all the attention might be focused on their five-star peers, we can sift through CAPS to find four-star companies approaching greatness:

  • Qiao Xing Universal Telephone (NASDAQ:XING)
  • North Star Realty Finance (NYSE:NRF)
  • Zoltek Cos. (NASDAQ:ZOLT)

Some of these names might surprise you. TASER, for example, has been electrifying investors for years with its ability to stun the market. Almost great? Even familiar names can still offer some of the best opportunities. Perhaps we've just forgotten the potential they still hold. However, the 145,000-plus CAPS members chose these companies as less obvious sources for tomorrow's great buys so let's see why they might merit your attention.

In the sight of greatness?
China-based CDC is something of a conglomerate in that it controls a family of companies providing enterprise software, online games, and Internet and media services. With the popularity of online gaming in China still extremely high, CDC may just make more of a splash there than anywhere else.

A number of interactive Chinese companies spun off their gaming divisions to realize the potential in the industry. (NASDAQ:SOHU) released and Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA) did the same with Shanda Games.

CDC's gaming division may cut a broad swath with its recently launched online role-playing game version of The Lord of The Rings, for which it owns exclusive distribution rights in China. Highly rated CAPS All-Star SmallPimpin thinks the video game connection ensures CDC will outperform the market, while helmutae predicted the game will launch it forward:

LOTR [Lord of the Rings] best game in world. Pay to PLAY 6.5 cents usd hr, $6.7 usd mo. 150,000,000 registered users. 10% would be 15 mill. times 6.5 or 90 mill. month. Well?
Software set to go. ... [H]as money expanding to the good markets, china, india, korea,brazil, mexico, indochina 70% of world population, Expanding economies, not like here, dead.

Got an opinion on the Chinese gaming market? Let us know in the comments box below, otherwise head over to the CDC CAPS page and give us your role-playing perspective for its future.

A great opportunity for you
Investor sentiment suggests these four-star investments are still on their way to five-star greatness, but it pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made -- all from a stock's CAPS page.

Sign up today for the completely free service and let us hear what you have to say about the great and almost-great companies that interest you.