Investors are always hunting for the next big stock -- the dream stock whose price increases several times over when the market finally discovers it. It's easy to look back and see what the 10 best stocks of the past decade were. But for my part, I'm more interested in the tools that can not only help me find new stock ideas, but also help me evaluate tomorrow's greatest companies.

There is a tool that offers a variety of resources for this: Motley Fool CAPS, a 125,000-member community of investors helping one another beat the market.

We'll enlist CAPS to screen for small-cap companies and get the story behind some of the more highly rated stocks. CAPS' nifty screener will help us find stocks with:

  • A market cap between $100 million and $1 billion.
  • A three-year revenue growth rate of at least 20%.
  • A price-to-earnings ratio of less than 25.
  • At least 300 people making a call on the company.

Then we'll tap the collective intelligence of our CAPS members to see whether these companies present real opportunities -- or whether the numbers don't tell the true story.

Opinions with the numbers
Below is a sample of stocks our screen returned. You can run this screen yourself -- remember, though, that your results may differ from ours as the market changes.

Company

Revenue Growth Rate, Past 3 Years

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN)

134.5%

*****

American Oriental Bioengineering (NYSE:AOB)

56.4%

*****

Portfolio Recovery Associates (NASDAQ:PRAA)

20.5%

*****

TBS International (NASDAQ:TBSI)

28.3

****

Data and star rankings from CAPS as of Feb. 25.

Focus Media
Investors weren't exactly jumping up and down with glee when Focus Media announced it would sell assets to Sina in an all-stock deal. But many investors feel that shares of Focus Media are undervalued because the company is still left with a growing online advertising business, movie advertising network, and billboards. Plus, the company sits on $381 million in cash and a big pile of Sina shares, leaving many CAPS members bullish on a company that's practically being given away. Today, nearly 98% of the 1,179 CAPS members rating Focus Media expect it to outperform the market.

American Oriental Bioengineering
With its sights set on becoming China's Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) or Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), American Oriental Bioengineering has enjoyed incredible growth and delivered a whopping 62% revenue increase last quarter. Shares then dropped significantly when some red flags popped up as a result of an odd real estate purchase by the company. But with the company's explanation of the tax advantages of the purchase, many CAPS members see one heck of a cheap stock, with 97% of the 2,594 members rating it seeing it as a winning investment.

Portfolio Recovery Associates
While not every analyst agrees, some investors believe that debt collection company Portfolio Recovery Associates is valued on the cheap, considering the strong free cash flow it produces. The company recently reported that fourth-quarter revenue grew 17%, with cash collections rising 22% to $79.2 million. Portfolio Recovery Associates also diversified into more fee-based businesses to offset a slow economy, and strong cash flows allowed it to spend a record $280 million on portfolio purchases for the year to provide future growth. At this point, 97% of the 3,493 CAPS members rating Portfolio Recovery Associates are bullish.

TBS International
Dry-bulk shippers have been unilaterally beaten down lately, as companies like DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS) are sinking under the burden of debt. But some CAPS members take the contrarian view on TBS International. The company has experienced growth in both sales and income and recently took delivery of its 47th vessel, with six more on order for this year and next. And a good number of CAPS members see more growth in store when the global economy settles, with 95% of those rating TBS International expecting it to beat the S&P 500.

Let 125,000 members be the judge
The collective wisdom of a huge pool of investors can help give context to a page of numbers developed through a stock screen. But even with an entire community of opinions, individual investors should perform their own due diligence.

Run your favorite factors through the Motley Fool CAPS screener. It's totally free, and we think you'll like the results.

Fool contributor Dave Mock dreams of stocks and sugarplum fairies, but not together. He owns shares of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor pick, and Pfizer used to be recommended by the newsletter. Portfolio Recovery Associates and American Oriental Bioengineering are Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations. Pfizer is an Inside Value recommendation. Focus Media Holding is a Rule Breakers selection. The Fool owns shares of American Oriental Bioengineering and it used to own shares of Pfizer. The Fool's disclosure policy screens the good, the bad, and the ugly.