At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." But that's not all we're doing here.

In this feature, we're going to tell you what the analysts said ... and then show you whether they know what they're talking about. Helping us in this endeavor will be Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we'll be tracking the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and worst and sorriest, too.

And speaking of the best...
On Friday, Deutsche Securities bumped both Ford (NYSE:F) and GM (NYSE:GM) up from "hold" to "buy." Deutsche is now on record recommending buys of each of the traditional Big Three automakers, having called DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX) a buy since May of last year.

In making its upgrade, Deutsche cited a deal recently hammered out between Goodyear Tire (NYSE:GT) and the United Auto Workers as evidence that U.S. unions have become "increasingly open to unconventional solutions for competitive challenges such as healthcare." It sees a chance for automakers to obtain similar concessions that would give them "flexibility in restructuring and re-sizing their business for profitability."

Could Deutsche be jumping the gun here? And even if it's not, how much should investors rely on its opinion today? In the past, Deutsche has proven extremely fickle in its ratings -- dropping GM from "hold" to "sell," then taking it right back up to "hold" over the course of six weeks last summer. (Unfortunately for investors, during the six weeks that Deutsche advised selling the stock, GM rose 11% in value, outperforming a flat S&P 500.)

On the other hand, Deutsche made a much better call on Ford from February 2004 to June 2005, waving investors off in time to save them 15% worth of losses during a period when the S&P rose 9%. Deutsche is also one of the smartest stock pickers in all of CAPS. Its combined rating of 99.58 puts it in the top 10% of Wall Street firms, and the top 1% of CAPS players overall.

To illustrate, here are a few of Deutsche's correct picks:

Deutsche says:

CAPS says:

Deutsche's pick beating S&P by: (NYSE:CRM)



12 points

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)



10 points




Nine points

Personally, I'm reserving judgment. While I respect Deutsche's record, I've simply noticed that when it comes to auto stocks, two non-professional CAPS analysts have done a much better job at predicting their performance. To learn the identities of these equity-wise grease monkeys, click through to the CAPS pages for Ford and GM. While you're at it, check out the top scorer for DaimlerChrysler, too.

You may be surprised to learn that the score leader on each is no professional analyst -- they're lay investors, just like you and me.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice, while AT&T was a former Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked 43 out of more than 22,000 raters. The Fool has a disclosure policy.