It's been nearly a year since home improvement powerhouse Home Depot (NYSE:HD) last turned in anything like a powerhouse of a quarter. Over the last three reporting periods, we've seen the company meet estimates just once, and miss twice. Tomorrow, "Big Orange" tries to break its losing streak.

After the earnings news comes out, we'll have time a-plenty to dissect it. But in these few hours before we begin obsessing over Home Depot'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, Home Depot among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
Well over 2,000 investors have submitted ratings on Home Depot. Their verdict: Could be dry rot.

Roughly four CAPS investors in five expect Home Depot to outperform the market. It may sound like a lot, but it's actually a bit sub-par -- and in any case, CAPS is no mere popularity contest. We weight our ratings based on the raters' records of past success, and Home Depot's fans' records earn the stock only two CAPS stars.

Within its CAPS industry grouping, Home Depot comes in close to last:

Home Improvement group

CAPS Rating

Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST)


Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD)


Builders FirstSource (NASDAQ:BLDR)


Lowe's (NYSE:LOW)


Sherwin Williams (NYSE:SHW)


Home Depot


Restoration Hardware (NASDAQ:RSTO)


Wall Street vs. Main Street
Wall Street is slightly less optimistic about Home Depot. Out of nine professional analysts we track on CAPS, seven expect the stock to outperform the market -- about a 78% approval rating. But you can't really blame them. Over the last 52 weeks, the stock has, in fact, underperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 20 percentage points.

Bull pitch
In one of the pithiest "pitches" yet written, one CAPS All-Star sums up the bull thesis for Home Depot thusly: "Sure the [now-ex] CEO [Bob Nardelli] is Scumbag of the Year, but cheap is cheap." And indeed, with the stock currently trading for a 14 P/E, in an industry expected to grow 15% per year over the next five years, Home Depot certainly does look cheap.

Bear pitch
But bears growl back that Home Depot is cheap for a reason -- or actually, cheap for two reasons. First, they argue that archrival Lowe's is eating HD's lunch. One All-Star sums it up in this acid-toned assessment: "The kmart of home improvement stores." Second, bears believe: "The housing sector [is] going down the tube and a recession on the way." Neither of which, if true, will do any great things for companies with too-close ties to the housing sector.

Who said that?
To learn the identities of the wise Fools who penned these thoughts and explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here.

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. Builders FirstSource and Home Depot are Inside Value recommendations.