Tic-tac-toe, Wall Street wants to know: After beating its estimates twice in a row, can megaretailer Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) make it three-for-three on the morrow?

After the firm's fiscal first-quarter 2008 earnings news comes out, we'll have time aplenty to dissect it. But in these few hours before we begin obsessing over Wal-Mart's short-term progress, let's take a moment to review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 28,000 rated investors for their views on well over 4,000 companies, Wal-Mart among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
Nearly 2,000 investors have submitted ratings on Wal-Mart. Their verdict: Always low prospects.

Seventy-seven percent of CAPS investors expect Wal-Mart to outperform the market, but when you drill down to our very best investors, the CAPS All-Stars, that drops to 73% approval. That's only enough to earn Wal-Mart two CAPS stars out of a possible five.

Among its CAPS retailer peers, Wal-Mart comes in close to last:

Retail group

CAPS rating

Walgreen (NYSE:WAG)




Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFMI)


Target (NYSE:TGT)


Federated (NYSE:FD)




Dollar General (NYSE:DG)


Wall Street vs. Main Street
Among professional Wall Street investors, who presumably know more about such things than do we mere Fools, sentiment swings entirely the other way. The four analysts we track on CAPS give Wal-Mart a unanimous thumbs-up. However, over the last 52 weeks, the stock has lagged the S&P 500 by about 10 percentage points.

Bull pitch
The top-rated bull "pitch" on CAPS goes something like this: "Buffett has been loading up on Wal-mart. ... They are starting to address image problems. ... The most efficient shippers in the world. ... Still the cheapest place to shop."

Bear pitch
Yet the self-same All-Star who points out these pluses, acknowledges that Wal-Mart's got some points against it as well, notably: "They have become a symbol of corporate hatred. ... Same store sales have not been great. ... California litigation is hurting profit margins."

Who said that?
To learn the identity of the level-headed Fool who penned these thoughts, weighed the pros and cons, and ultimately came down in Wal-Mart's favor, just click here.

Wal-Mart is an Inside Value recommendation. Find out why with a free 30-day trial.

Costco and Whole Foods are Stock Advisor picks.

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 No. 1,078 out of nearly 29,000 raters.