Let's begin with something the pros like to call an investment thesis, one especially worth chewing on and debating these days. Ready? OK: Energy stocks are to the mid-'00s what tech stocks were to the late '90s -- prime beneficiaries of irrational exuberance and destined to hit the skids, perhaps even hard.

Talk amongst yourselves.

OK, what'd you decide? Does the thesis hold water?

Well, with such energy-sector stalwarts as ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), BP (NYSE:BP), and Shell (NYSE:SC) all posting double-digit returns during a stock market year best described as tepid, there's certainly a case to be made for harvesting at least some of those gains (again, as the pros like to say) and redeploying the proceeds to, for instance, high-quality names that may have temporarily fallen from favor.

In that category, the likes of AIG (NYSE:AIG), Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM), and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) all come to mind, a trio of worthies that, while troubled just now, look like especially juicy low-hanging fruit. Indeed, while energy equities have gushed, these stocks have come up dry, tumbling by double digits through yesterday's market close amid accounting "issues" and regulatory concerns.

That said, far be it from me to try and make a market call. As every Fool knows, that's almost always a losing proposition, and energy stocks may yet have plenty of, um, fuel in the tank. It's certainly worth noting that, after all, that while we're all forking over more dollars at the gas pump these days, on an inflation-adjusted basis, the price of oil has a ways to go before touching its '70s-era high-water mark.

Still, with investors chasing performance by pumping barrels of money into the sector -- always an excellent contrarian indicator -- it may be time to step off the energy gas pedal and head in the direction of market roads less traveled.

Shannon Zimmerman drills for mutual fund standouts in the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service. He doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned above, and the Fool has a strict disclosure policy.