Picking a great stock can be extremely rewarding, even if you're not first to the party. Titanium Metals, for example, has been a public company since 1996. But investors who took the plunge in 2003, when the stock was trading at around $0.50 (split-adjusted) are up ... well, let's just say a whole lot.

It's a similar story with Google. Investors who bought the stock this time last year are up a nice 41%. However, those investors who boarded the Google train shortly after its 2004 IPO, at what now seems like the low price of $100, are sitting on a 467% gain.

The allure of buying an IPO has faded a bit since the dot-com era, but there's still that je ne sais quoi about being in on a great stock from the ground floor. Investing in IPOs can be tricky, though, since there's typically less information available about the company. And unless a bank outside the underwriting team decides to cover the stock, there won't be any analyst estimates to work from. Last year, while IPOs like Rule Breakers pick Omrix Biopharmaceuticals showed us why it's still great to catch a winner at the open, others, like Vonage, reminded us that you can still lose big.

The Motley Fool's new investing community, CAPS, is helping to make new stocks more transparent by allowing investors to share their thoughts and outlooks for recent IPOs, as well as for more than 5,000 other stocks. The following are a few of the most recent IPOs.

Stock

Return Since IPO

Total CAPS Ratings

CAPS Bulls

CAPS Rating

VMWare (NYSE:VMW)

186.6%

558

495

***

WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE:WX)

113.5%

73

67

****

MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI)

105.1%

38

30

**

E-House Holdings (NYSE:EJ)

71.7%

58

52

***

Horsehead Holding (NASDAQ:ZINC)

32.2%

59

55

***

Cosan (NYSE:CZZ)

23.1%

43

43

*****

Genpact

14.1%

17

15

***

Source: IPOHome, Yahoo!Finance, and CAPS as of Sept. 27.

I highly recommend that you visit CAPS and check out what CAPS players are saying about these highly rated offerings. In the meantime, here are some introductory thoughts on a few of the IPOs that piqued my interest:

VMWare's big debut
It was hard to miss this IPO, since the coverage of this rocket-ship offering was everywhere. Fooldom certainly didn't miss out, and my fellow Fool Tom Taulli was all over VMWare's big first day.

But for those who did skip over coverage, VMWare is a spinoff from technology giant EMC (NYSE:EMC) that sells virtualization software. It's basically a way to create a software layer just above the actual hardware (processors, RAM, etc.) of a computer or server, allowing users to set up multiple virtual machines that share the hardware and carry out multiple tasks simultaneously. This allows companies to milk the most out of their servers, saving oodles on costs like space and power.

There were a number of big winners on this one, not the least of which was EMC, which still owns 86% of VMWare. Early investors in the IPO should also be pretty happy, though maybe not as happy as tech giants Cisco and Intel. The duo cleverly invested a few hundred million in VMWare prior to the IPO, and The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the cool $360 million in profit that Cisco is sitting on from that deal.

Though the stock has gotten just three stars on CAPS, there are plenty of bullish CAPS players spreading the good word on VMWare. One of them, CAPS All-Star NorthWestHustler, claims to be an IT guy who's worked with the company for more than five years. He says that "NO ONE [sic] can do what VMWare can" and that "VMWare ... has the whole market to itself."

Got some thoughts on these IPOs? Head over to CAPS and help them earn their stripes. While you're there, you can check out the opinions of more than 65,000 CAPS members on the 5,000-plus stocks currently rated. CAPS is entirely free and it's more fun than watching Terminator 2 and Twins back-to-back (though that is a lot of fun).

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. He encourages feedback, but asks that you avoid any disparaging remarks about his home state's Governator. Intel is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy stared a T-1000 right in the face and said "hasta la vista, baby."