Break out the steaks and corn-on-the-cob -- it's a backyard investing barbecue!

There are many good reasons for researching investment opportunities in a certain geographic area. Today, it's the state of Nebraska, "Where the West Begins."

If you happen to live in Elkhorn or Hemingford, you already have a few advantages when it comes to evaluating the local market, such as access to local news sources and the word on the street, and a high probability of being a customer or employee of these companies. And if you're not a local resident, you might still want to know whether the weather matches the business climate -- a hot area could be chock-full of undiscovered treasures on their way to greatness.

Without further ado, here are the largest companies headquartered between Kansas and South Dakota:


Market Cap (billions)

CAPS Rating

Bull Ratio

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B)




Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP)




ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG)




TD Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD)




Data taken from Motley Fool CAPS on 6/22/2007.

Mansion on the hill
This top-level list is stacked with household names. Union Pacific runs one of the four major railroad networks in the United States, and ConAgra packs our pantries full with Chef Boyardee cans and Slim Jims. The other two names may only feel familiar to investors, but in that crowd they're slam dunks.

Many of us have brokerage accounts set up with Ameritrade, especially after the company's spending spree in the last few years tacked on the customer lists of Datek Online,, and BrokerageAmerica -- just to name a few. Our CAPS players like that free-spending mentality, and many of us see Ameritrade as one of a mere handful of brokerage houses that will survive the aggressive consolidation in that industry.

You may already have known where Berkshire Hathaway keeps its headquarters, given that CEO Warren Buffett is nicknamed "The Oracle of Omaha." Most people will recognize large parts of the company's brands, but those not savvy in the ways of the market rarely know that GEICO insurance, Benjamin Moore paints, Dairy Queen fast food, and Fruit of the Loom undies all belong to the same family, among many, many others.

Buffett brings instant credibility to this investment firm, and he has brought up a solid line of successors to take over when he's done. Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger often regale investors with valuable financial advice and common sense, and although few can afford A-series shares, you really need to know about this company if you invest at all.

Reason to believe
The Cornhusker State is home to just 18 public companies, according to Capital IQ. Hunting and fishing equipment retailer Cabela's (NYSE:CAB) is the only Foolish newsletter pick aside from Berkshire -- a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection since December 2006 that has yet to burn up the stock charts for our subscribers.

In terms of CAPS grades, Nebraska scores a solid but unspectacular 3.1 average and the median stock has three stars today. That would be fashion retailer Buckle (NYSE:BKE).

It's a decidedly motley band of brothers, too. There's a hotel chain, a heavy manufacturing company, a trucking operation, the usual complement of regional banks ... no clear theme to this market.

Nebraska is far away from our largest financial and population hubs, making it difficult to lure top talent away from the bright lights to this rural setting. Let's give the Huskers some time to grow yet.

Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to weigh in on the Husker market -- or on any stocks at all, really -- by joining Motley Fool CAPS and blasting away with your ratings and commentary pitches. And if Stockville isn't your 'hood, maybe we'll come around where you live the next time.

Further Foolishness:

Cabela's is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick; Berkshire Hathaway is both a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation and a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, but he is completely surrounded by Berkshire Hathaway stuff. And of course he had to work Springsteen in again -- wouldn't you? You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, or follow him around the world on these Foolish local-business treks. Foolish disclosure is always red-hot.