Whether it's 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 160,000-member CAPS community -- where members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to some 5,400 stocks -- seeks businesses it thinks will outperform the market. Below we'll take a look at some of the most popular and talked-about stocks in the CAPS universe and examine whether you think they'll continue their winning ways.


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

No. of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Buffalo Wild Wings (Nasdaq: BWLD)




Valero (NYSE: VLO)




Visa (NYSE: V)




Of course, just because a lot of investors find these stocks interesting doesn't mean they're automatic additions to your portfolio. You still need to do more research to find out if they're interesting because they're set to take off, or because their stocks are ready for a trip to the cellar.

A tall drink of water
The only thing wild in Buffalo Wild Wings' latest earnings report was the indigestion it gave investors as it reported flat same-store sales. Small consolation that Panera Bread (Nasdaq: PNRA) also had to wash dishes in the kitchen after its report disappointed the market. As the Food Network show of the same name says, these restaurants were "chopped."

But with April comps at company-owned stores down 3.7% so far, maybe that expansion spree Buffalo Wild Wings went on last year wasn't an idea as hot as its wing sauce. We're likely seeing some cannibalization of existing stores occurring, and it hasn't helped that costs for chicken wings are at record levels.

Nevertheless, it seems Buffalo Wild Wings actually did an admirable job, and with the stock now priced where it was in January and trading at around 1.4 times sales, it's priced higher than drive-in restaurant lagger Sonic (Nasdaq: SONC), at 1.2. To B-Wild's credit, it was able to turn a profit where Sonic recorded a loss in the recent quarter.

CAPS member mistercube says the grilling Buffalo Wild Wings is getting from the market is just one of its manic swings:

Poor comps and a miss earned [Buffalo Wild Wings] a 17% sell-off today; as usual, the pendulum swings from undue optimism to excessive pessimism before finding its focus. I'll consider this a gift from Mr. Market.

Lost in the wilderness
The Great Recession wasn't kind to refiners like Valero Energy, which saw their margins slide as demand for oil products withered. Despite recording its fourth straight quarterly loss, Valero's management thinks we've seen the end of the skid and that the company will turn an annual profit this year. That might be true, but even BP (NYSE: BP), which posted a big surge in its profit, thinks refining is going to continue seeing thin margins for the immediate future.

However, highly rated CAPS All-Star member wbinv2100 is hoping Valero will be able to leverage a rebounding economy into greater growth opportunities:

Has the potential for huge profit if the economy rebounds. It's sales have topped over a $100 billion, but has only a $10 billion market cap. This industry has high leverage increases in gas prices will drop to the bottom line.

Jot this down
Unlike American Express (NYSE: AXP), which counts on credit card purchases for its transactional gains, it won't matter to Visa if the economic recovery is fueled by consumers using their credit or debit cards, as the company will profit from the transaction regardless (though we'd hope consumers continue to pay down their debt like they did throughout 2009).

davidnguyen41 sees the recovery bolstering Visa's vista, while jssstocks likes its position as a toll road gatekeeper:

no credit holding risk... they just get paid for processing payment. and credit and debit card purchases will only continue to rise. major growth stock with little downside.

With over 4,500 CAPS members weighing in on the master of plastic, you can join them in charging up your opinion on the Visa CAPS page.

Gather 'round
With so many good opinions about today's top companies, 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.

American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Buffalo Wild Wings is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, 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.