Tic-tac-toe, investors want to know: After two straight quarters of "beating the Street" with a hammer, can Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) make it three in a row? On Monday, home improvement's No. 2 retailer reports Q1 2007 earnings.

After the earnings news comes out, we'll have time aplenty to dissect it. But before we begin obsessing over Lowe's short-term progress, let's use the weekend 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 investors for their views on well over 4,000 companies, Lowe's among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
More than 1,000 investors have submitted ratings on Lowe's. Their verdict: "Let's buy something together."

Among both CAPS investors at large, and the subset of our very best investors -- the CAPS All-Stars -- Lowe's enjoys widespread approval. More than nine investors in ten give it the thumbs-up, which is plenty to earn this firm four out of five possible CAPS stars.

Within its CAPS industry grouping, Lowe's stacks up quite well:

Home Improvement Group

CAPS Rating

Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST)




Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD)


Builders FirstSource (NASDAQ:BLDR)


Sherwin Williams (NYSE:SHW)


Valspar (NYSE:VAL)


Home Depot (NYSE:HD)


Wall Street vs. Main Street
Wall Street is only a little less enthusiastic about Lowe's, with eight of the nine Lowe's-tracking analysts that we monitor saying they expect it to outperform the market. And yet, for all the optimism intersecting at these investing boulevards, Lowe's has underperformed the S&P 500 by a good 18 percentage points over the last 52 weeks.

Bull pitch
Why so much optimism about an underperforming stock? Perhaps for the reason outlined in the top-rated CAPS pitch on the company -- and from the top-rated CAPS player of all time, no less. Says he:

I'm bullish on Lowes here for much the same reasons I'm bullish on several homebuilders. I simply think the stock is oversold, already has a great deal of pessimism factored into the stock price, and is offering long-term shareholders a nice value proposition at these levels.

Bear pitch
Lowe's top-rated bear-baiter counters:

Weakness in the housing market is going to affect this company more than people think. The housing market is not turning a corner as some experts claim. ... These people are all extremely early. We experienced a bull market that saw 10 years of price appreciation in only a few years in some markets. Prices have only just begun to pull back. Despite what people on here might say, spending on home improvements will decrease significantly as people feel like they are loosing [sic] money on their real estate.

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. 1261 out of nearly 29,000 raters. Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.