Volatile markets seem to be the norm these days, as stocks gyrate through ups and downs on a daily basis. But sometimes buyout news and other short-term forces can send individual stocks soaring by 10%, 25%, even 50% -- even on the market's worst days.        

For example, shares of InterMune (Nasdaq: ITMN) soared 65% to eight-year highs when an advisory panel recommended that the FDA approve its lung drug pirfenidone.

But beyond less-predictable events like that one are stocks with fundamentally compelling reasons behind a big move. The trick is to find those stocks. That's where Motley Fool CAPS comes in.

The story behind the story
CAPS is no crowd of lemmings. Its best-performing members' opinions do more to shape each company's rating than the picks of their poorer-performing peers. Here's an example of how we can use the collective wisdom of more than 160,000 CAPS members to filter out the noise and find companies with strong potential.

We'll use CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly zero in on companies with a stock price increase of at least 30% in the past four weeks, a market cap of greater than $100 million, and a beta of less than 3. Then we can use the insight of the CAPS investment community to add some context to these market movers.

Company

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

4-Week
Price Change

Fuel-Tech

****

50.2%

Joe's Jeans (Nasdaq: JOEZ)

****

31.7%

Quiksilver (NYSE: ZQK)

***

92.4%

Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE)

***

31.7%

Alcatel-Lucent

**

30.1%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return from Feb. 12 through March 12.

Quiksilver
Last year was pretty ugly for Quiksilver as the surf-themed clothing maker struggled to shake off the effects of the recession on the heels of an acquisition blunder with ski maker Rossignol. But the company recently delivered some better news when it announced a much narrower fiscal-first-quarter loss than the prior year, making investors happy enough to send shares 30% higher on Friday.

Challenges remain for Quiksilver and other retailers that carry its brand of skate and surf wear, like Pacific Sunwear (Nasdaq: PSUN) and Zumiez. The retail environment has been showing signs of improvement lately, but all three forecast continued weakness in the near term as consumers remain cautious.

The CAPS community has a middle-of-the-road three-star rating on Quiksilver as a lackluster 86% of the 283 members rating the retailer give it the thumbs-up. Some remain wary of its large debt load while others are bullish on the long-term value of the company's brand.

Clean Energy Fuels
Clean Energy Fuels is plowing ahead with plans to expand its network of fueling stations to multiple cities in southern California, and hopes to connect to northern California and several neighboring states. And while big gains in share price in the past year may have tacked a premium onto Clean Energy's shares, its recent 49% jump in fourth-quarter revenue, thanks to a huge leap in sales volume, has some investors feeling more confident that it can sustain further growth.

The company is building momentum with its BAF acquisition, with customers like AT&T returning for repeat business to convert more vehicles. And despite ExxonMobil's chief executive recently posing different views than T. Boone Pickens on the viability of natural gas for transportation, Clean Energy sees Exxon's plunge into XTO Energy (NYSE: XTO) and other increasing activity in North America among the likes of Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) as a positive sign for the future of natural gas.

In CAPS, 95% of the 950 members rating Clean Energy Fuels expect it to outperform the broader market.

And you?
What's your story? Whether you buy the tale of a stock that's soaring or souring, your own research is more important than collective opinions. But these collective opinions can make your due diligence a whole lot easier.

Add your take on these or any of the 5,400 stocks that our 160,000-plus members have covered in Motley Fool CAPS. It's totally free to be a part of the community, and the payback is more than worth it.

The Motley Fool Hidden Gems service looks for companies like Zumiez with exceptional management and growth prospects. Check out what other gems the analyst team has uncovered today with a free 30 day trial to the service.

Fool contributor Dave Mock has his own story, but there's no "happily ever after" at the end of it. He owns shares of Alcatel-Lucent and ExxonMobil. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value pick. InterMune is a former Rule Breakers selection. Zumiez is a Hidden Gems pick. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy and XTO Energy. The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.