Keeping your portfolio above water in these markets is no easy task. Companies can be too easily whipsawed by the whimsical musings of the Treasury Department or the Fed, making investors who've successfully navigated these rough waters rare indeed. A steady track record of staying afloat is even more impressive.

The All-Stars in our Motley Fool CAPS investor-intelligence database have found themselves particularly adroit at consistently steering their picks through these turbulent markets. Given that some of the top professionals view this as the best time in 35 years to invest in stocks, let's look at some of the recent picks of this community's investing mavens. If these All-Stars have been able to maintain their top status through bull and bear markets alike, their opinions on stocks for the months and years ahead might be worth watching.

 

CAPS Member

Member Rating

Member Since

Recent Stock Pick

CAPS Rating
(5 stars max)

Call

seanleckey

99.79

10/9/06

Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW)

****

Outperform

RonChapmanJr

99.77

12/7/06

Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU)

***

Outperform

Patelk10

99.75

9/8/06

DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS)

**

Outperform

TheSheet

99.75

11/6/06

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI)

***

Outperform

SlowElectron

99.74

1/22/07

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)

*****

Outperform


Rowing against the current

DryShips has barely avoided being sunk, thanks to the safe harbor provided by its lender. Shipping rates have been frozen in a perfect storm during the credit crisis, and DryShips faced debt payments that were coming due as part of the $650 million credit line it used to purchase Ocean Rig last summer. The dry-bulk shipper avoided default after it persuaded its lender to postpone a $75 million payment until May and agreed to begin regular payments in August.

While risk-averse investors may want to test the calmer waters of a debt-free shipper such as Nordic American Tanker (NYSE:NAT), CAPS member forexnutca thinks DryShips is a bargain, even with its debt load, because it trades at a fraction to its book value:

Ok, they have some debt.....but their book value is 49$!! This is a whopping 0.13 price to book. This leaves plenty of safety margin at the current price of $6.00 for more depreciation on the ships and assets than claimed. If this company stopped doing business today, a realistic value of around 25$ a share could be seen if the assets were liquidated. Bargain!

Building up hopes
With consumer spending trends heading downward, job losses mounting, and consumers stretching their dollars ever further, top-rated CAPS All-Star jstegma says Whole Foods Market may be losing shoppers’ dollars to more mundane responsibilities:

While there may be benefits to eating natural and organic versus the alternative, those benefits are smaller than the benefits of paying the electric bill and the mortgage.

Even Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) has found that consumers are looking to buy only the basics. In such an environment, it would seem things will get worse for Whole Foods before they starting taking a turn for the better.

Ahoy there!
Whether you've been in the markets for years or are new to them, it pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS, absolutely free. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made, all from a stock's CAPS page. Then tell the CAPS community whether you think these old salts have the wind in their sails.

Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Baidu is a Rule Breakers pick. Whole Foods Market is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. We've got top analysts scouring the market for stocks of the growth and value variety, and all the information you can absorb in 30 days is free.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Wal-Mart, but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.