Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. So why does the media focus so much attention on what Wall Street says about companies, instead of what it does with them?

Luckily for Wall Street watchers, the Internet brings us MSN Money's list of which companies the institutions are buying. True, we should be as skeptical of Wall Street's actions as we are of its words. But when the 130,000-plus lay and professional investors on Motley Fool CAPS agree with Wall Street's opinions, it just might be time for some buying.

Here's the latest edition of Wall Street's Buy List, alongside our investors' opinions of the companies involved:

Company

Recent Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Advance America (NYSE:AEA)

$3.76

*****

Dendreon Corp

$21.55

**

Pep Boys  (NYSE:PBY)

$7.49

**

Huntington Bancshares 

$2.97

*

US Airways  (NYSE:LCC)

$4.00

*

Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Up Last Month" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. Recent price provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Wall Street vs. Main Street
Wall Street traders are snapping up these stocks just as fast as they can hit the "buy" button. And Main Street's response? Knock yourself out, fellas. In almost every single case, we're happy to be quit of 'em.

Every case but one that is. When it comes to the payday loan industry, Fools are buying into Wall Street's bet that congressional regulation won't inflict a legislative guillotine-blow to cash advancers. And if they're right, then there's one stock in particular that we Fools expect to prosper: Advance America.

The bull case for Advance America
If Congress caps payday loan rates at the 36% APR that some legislators are bandying about, of course, all bets are off. But if it doesn't, then Advance America's problems become more local -- and less insurmountable. CAPS member G8BigBoom tells us that this is a "[v]ery smart company that knows how and where to make money. If the situation changes in an area [Advance America] will not stay put but will move to better greener pastures."

Meanwhile, nartable stated no more than the obvious when observing earlier this year: "Credit is tight, and sometimes people need money quickly."

Moreover, as jeetaylor points out: "Po' folk sure aren't going to get a credit card these days." On the contrary, American Express (NYSE:AXP) is paying people to give up their cards. And even people lucky enough to still have credit cards can't get as much use out of them these days, what with bankers like Citigroup (NYSE:C), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) slashing their credit lines.

All of which works in Advance America's favor -- and maybe yours as well. If you've got a strong-enough stomach to handle the legislative uncertainty, then now looks like a tremendous time to cash in on the stock's ultralow valuation. Selling for a 6 P/E and with growth projected at 15% per year over the next five years, Advance America looks priced to move -- but that's only the beginning of this value story.

Fact is, as cheap as the company appears under GAAP accounting standards, those numbers don't begin to describe the value from a free-cash-flow perspective. You see, the company gets a bad rap right now for the fact that its "net earnings" have dropped about 60% over the last five years. Less talked about is the fact that Advance America's free cash flow grew over this time frame (up about 24% in five years). With $176.5 million in free cash flow over the past 12 months, the stock is selling for the near-giveaway price of just 1.4 times free cash flow (add in debt, and that works out to 2.4 times enterprise value -- still an absolute steal of a deal.)

Time to chime in
Of course, prices don't get this low on any stock without good reason. In Advance America's case, the reason is the very real fear that Congress will soon expropriate the firm's ability to make a profit by capping lending rates. In essence, therefore, an investment in Advance America today amounts to little more than a bet on congressional inaction. Bet right -- and you could make a fortune. Bet wrong, though, and you'll lose your shirt.

The safer alternative? Bet virtually: Come on over to Motley Fool CAPS and tell us whether you think the stock will outperform or underperform the market. Here, at least, you've got nothing to lose but your reputation for fortune-telling.

American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection, and the Fool owns shares of it.

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. 280 out of more than 130,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.