Based on the aggregated intelligence of the 110,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, specialty insurer Markel (NYSE:MKL) has earned a coveted five-star ranking. Our data has shown that five-star stocks outperform the market by a significant margin; conversely, one-star stocks have woefully lagged the market average.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at Markel's business, and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

Markel facts

Headquarters (Founded) Glen Allen, Va. (1930)

Market Cap

$3.32 billion


Property & Casualty Insurance

TTM Revenue

$2.38 billion


CEO Alan Kirshner (1986)
CIO Thomas Gayner (2001)

Return on Equity (avg. last three years)


CAPS members bullish on MKL also bullish on

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)
General Electric (NYSE:GE)

CAPS members bearish on MKL also bearish on

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)
Ford (NYSE:F)
Circuit City Stores (NYSE:CC)

Sources: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Motley Fool CAPS. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Over on CAPS, fully 416 of the 425 All-Star members who have rated Markel -- some 98% -- believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These All-Star bulls include my fellow Fool TMFMattyA and MJKPayday, both of whom are ranked in the top 10% of our community.

In May 2007, TMFMattyA argued that: "The many parallels that can be drawn between Markel and Berkshire Hathaway are understated. This is one of the few companies that I have ever come across where I think you can truly buy and hold forever."

In a pitch seven months later, MJKPayday elaborated on the company's remarkable resemblance to a "baby" Berkshire:

If I were asked for a company I could invest with, never keep up with, never look at the price, and not give it much thought for 10 years I would say Markel is your best bet.

Markel is a Buffett-esque type insurance company investing its income in equities to grow their book value. The management and their lineage have been with the company since the 20s and hold considerable positions... My bet is the management will meet or exceed their stated goals of 20% ROE and continue their amazing run for those 10 years I mentioned.

What do you think about Markel, or any other stock for that matter? Make your voice heard on Motley Fool CAPS today. More than 110,000 investors are waiting to hear what you have to say. CAPS is 100% free, so simply click here to get started.

Markel, Microsoft, and Berkshire are stock recommendations in the Motley Fool Inside Value newsletter. Apple and Berkshire are Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days, for access to a wealth of investing insight that will educate, amuse, and enrich you.

Foolish contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy always gets a perfect score.