Based on the aggregated intelligence of 115,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, giant drugmaker Merck (NYSE:MRK) has earned a respected four-star ranking. Five-star stocks have been the best performers, but our data has shown that four-star stocks still outshine the market by a significant margin and shouldn't be taken lightly; conversely, low-rated stocks have woefully lagged the market average.

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

Merck facts

   

Headquarters (Founded)

Whitehouse Station, N.J. (1891)

Market Cap

$74.3 billion

Industry

Pharmaceuticals

Trailing-12-Month Revenue

$24.2 billion

Management

CEO Richard Clar,k

CFO Peter Kellogg

Return on Equity (Average, Past Three Years)

26.7%

Major Competitors

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE),

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY)

CAPS Members Bullish on MRK Also Bullish on:

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ),

Altria (NYSE:MO)

CAPS Members Bearish on MRK Also Bearish on:

Citigroup (NYSE:C),

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS. 

Over on CAPS, fully 384 of 419 of the All-Star members who have rated Merck -- some 91% -- believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These All-Star bulls include jtrax and biotechmgr, both of whom are ranked in the top 2% of our community.

One month ago, jtrax noted that Merck is "currently depressed in value and qualifies as a value purchase." Our CAPS member continues: "It pays an excellent dividend and seems to have weathered the legal storms over Vytorin and Vioxx. A safe harbor in stormy times."

An earlier pitch from biotechmgr in March agrees with that line of thinking and elaborates on Merck's long-term bull case:

Merck is well positioned to become the industry leader over the next 5 years. The product pipeline has swelled under the leadership of Dr. Peter Kim. Innovations in vaccines are focusing on prevention not just cures. Cost savings efforts as well as focus on speed are continuous. Merck wants to be the winner again among big pharma. Merck is a highly ethical company and is working to remove any past taint from individual actions. Employee morale is increasing and the pride is returning in the post-Vioxx era under the leadership of Richard Clark.

What do you think about Merck, or any other stock for that matter? Make your voice heard on Motley Fool CAPS today. More than 115,000 investors are waiting to hear what you have to say. CAPS is 100% free, so why not get started?

Pfizer and Starbucks are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are Income Investor selections. Starbucks is also a Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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