Whether in the corporate lunchroom, your cubicle, or the local watering hole after work, there are regular places we gather to discuss news, sports or -- if you're like us -- stocks. Here at Motley Fool CAPS, we gather around the virtual water cooler daily to rate stocks and delve into their merits as investments.

Our 120,000-strong CAPS community -- where members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to some 5,400 stocks -- has shown a propensity for making prescient market calls. Our data indicates that newly minted five-star stocks offer some of the best opportunities to investors, while the lowest-rated companies fared worst. Below, we'll take a look at some of the most talked-about top stocks in the CAPS universe, and see whether investors like you think they will outperform or underperform the market.

Stock

CAPS Rating (5 Stars Max)

No. of Recs

% Outperform

Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD)

****

4588

94%

eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY)

***

3701

87%

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX)

*****

4897

98%

Nuance Communications (NASDAQ:NUAN)

****

5602

96%

Vale (NYSE:RIO)

****

5840

98%

A tall drink of water
Commodities have had a rough go of it after topping out earlier this year. However, Freeport-McMoRan has its hand in a variety of metals that ought to do well if all the recent capital infusion starts to inflame inflation. CAPS member BuildingWings is looking for a big payoff from the metals producer, while enjoying a hefty dividend in the process:

Good company on sale for well over 80% off its 52 week high. It's a gold play a copper play a dividend play. I currently own more shares of [Freeport-McMoRan] than anything else and I expect a big payoff in real life, as well as in CAPS.

Yet All-Star member GhentTeach sees demand for copper on the wane, even as inventories rise, and hopes it's not to late to reap the rewards of a short: "Might be late to this shorting party, but copper demand is decreasing while inventories are on the rise. Doesn't look good."

Nuance Communications is trying to roll up the market for speech-recognition technology under one roof. Some investors are casting doubt on whether Nuance will be able to achieve any added efficiency as it integrates acquisitions, leaving CAPS member abyrvalg cold toward the company's prospects: "Great, promising technology but business model looks failing. I can not imagine that after so many acquisitions operations are efficient."

The wings-and-a-beer concept of Buffalo Wild Wings didn't impress the market this quarter. Shares dropped despite the company's impressive increase in profits and same-store sales. Other casual-dining chains like DineEquity's (NYSE:DIN) Applebee's or Brinker's (NYSE:EAT) Chili's haven't been able to match that solid performance. Despite analysts' worries going forward, CAPS member Jeffreyw doesn't see a consumer-spending slowdown affecting B-Dubs:

[Buffalo Wild Wings] still has a great business model and is not suffering from consumers spending less, I think they are benefitting from consumers eating there as opposed to more high-priced [dining] options. Great for sports enthusiasts who want comraderie.

Gather 'round
The CAPS community can be like trying to take a sip from a fire hose. With so many good opinions about today's top companies streaming in, why not grab a pointy paper cup from the dispenser and join us at the Motley Fool CAPS water cooler? Your input can help guide other investors to stocks with bright prospects for growth. 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.

Nuance Communications and Buffalo Wild Wings are Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations. eBay is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.