When coming upon an unfamiliar stock, or one I don't follow closely, I always want to know the story behind it. Student-loan service provider and Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick First Marblehead (NYSE:FMD) has been generating lots of buzz lately, so let's dig a little deeper into the company and its story.

Motley Fool CAPS lets me see not only who likes or dislikes the stock, but also why. Investors there currently give First Marblehead five stars, with nearly 2,000 CAPS players voting that the stock will beat the broader market in the future. The company has largely maintained this rating for the last six months, but it's recently dipped to four stars a few times. Despite investors' enthusiasm, shares have lumbered 31% lower so far this year. (That's actually part of the reason for the recent optimism).

Shares of First Marblehead have been pummeled this year, following speculation that it may lose its two largest customers, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), if they complete a planned acquisition of Sallie Mae (NYSE:SLM). Additional uncertainty with tightening credit markets has helped put the stock in the screaming value category, thanks to the risks facing the company.

But many investors in CAPS cite the widespread belief that the purchase of Sallie Mae will not go through as planned, because of recently passed legislation that cuts government subsidies to student lenders. Even if the deal for Sallie Mae goes through at a lower price than the $60 per share originally offered, diversification with other customers such as General Electric (NYSE:GE) and KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY) will lessen the impact to First Marblehead's business.

First Marblehead also just announced that it secured $2.8 billion in loans, far more than many had expected, given the current environment. The company also increased its quarterly dividend by 10%, showing management's confidence in future business. While these turbulent times have shaken many investors out of First Marblehead, the sale on shares has the overwhelming majority of CAPS investors believing that the company will be a big winner in the long run.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock picks pots over pans most of the time. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. First Marblehead is a Hidden Gems and Inside Value recommendation. Bank of America and JPMorgan are Income Investor recommendations. The Fool's disclosure policy grades on a curve.