Investors are always hunting for the next big stock -- the dream stock whose price increases several times over when the market finally discovers it. It's easy to look back and discover the 10 best stocks of the past decade. But I'm more interested in the tools that can help me evaluate tomorrow's greatest companies.

Motley Fool CAPS offers a variety of resources to aid Fools in finding tomorrow's leaders. Our 140,000-member community is full of investors helping each other beat the market.

We'll enlist CAPS to screen for value plays, then get the story behind some of its more highly rated stocks. CAPS' nifty screener will help us find stocks with:

  • A market cap of at least $1 billion.
  • A long term debt-to-equity ratio of less than .5.
  • A current ratio of at least 1.
  • A price-to-earnings ratio of less than 15.

Then we'll tap the collective intelligence of our CAPS members to see whether these companies present real opportunities -- or whether the numbers fail to tell the true story.

Opinions with the numbers
Below is a sample of stocks our screen returned. You can run this screen yourself -- remember, though, that your results may differ from ours as the market changes.


P/E Ratio

LT Debt-to-Equity Ratio

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Petrobras (NYSE:PBR)




Fluor (NYSE:FLR)




Raytheon (NYSE:RTN)




Data and star rankings from CAPS as of Aug. 28.

Like other oil companies such as Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) and ConocoPhillips, Petrobras has had to deal with lower crude prices in its recent quarter, relative to last year. But the company said it is expecting a better second half due to the recent recovery in oil prices and a continuing increase in crude output. The Brazilian energy giant managed to increase production of oils and liquids by 6% year over year as several new platforms came online. The company is also active in new developments and plans to pump billions of investment dollars into developing the Santos Basin, where the huge Tupi oil field lies. Many CAPS members simply can't ignore the potentially massive reserves that are sitting off Brazil's shore. They will also keep deepwater drillers like Transocean (NYSE:RIG) and Diamond Offshore busy, and they could eventually result in billions of barrels of reserves. Petrobras gets high marks in CAPS, with 98% of the 3,787 members rating the company expecting it to outperform the broader market.

Despite the challenging economic climate, U.S. engineering company Fluor beat analysts' earnings expectations in the second quarter and, like peer Foster Wheeler (NASDAQ:FWLT), added fresh contracts to grow its backlog. Factoring out one-time gains from the financials, it also pulled in higher net income than last year, a feat not many companies can boast of these days. The results earned it a price target upgrade from an R.W. Baird analyst who says the company expects a good number of midsized contracts to keep backlog strong throughout the year. CAPS members like the company's diverse business and strong balance sheet, and the company consistently has positive free cash flow and a minimal amount of long-term debt. Overall, 97% of 1,181 members rating Fluor in CAPS are bullish today.

Life is good when your biggest customer is the U.S. government, and Raytheon expects that its defense products will remain a significant part of Uncle Sam's arsenal, particularly its contributions to antimissile systems. And like Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), Raytheon says its technologies will meet the needs of the Pentagon's changing priorities, which are geared more and more toward unconventional warfare.

But for investors concerned about contractors too tightly wedded to Uncle Sam, analyst Broadpoint AmTech noted that Raytheon is also working to expand its international sales mix, and says the company's on pace to meet its target percentage of international customers this year. Raytheon reported that 29% of revenue in the second quarter came from outside the U.S. The company has recently pulled in multiple contracts from international governments, a trend that management expects to increase in coming years. In CAPS, 95% of 1,123 members rating Raytheon expect it to beat the market.

Let 140,000 members be the jury
The collective wisdom of a huge pool of investors can help give context to a page of numbers from a stock screen -- but individual investors are still the best judges. Fools should always perform their own due diligence.

And it's easy to chime in with your own opinion: If you agree that these companies present dream opportunities -- or disagree, and see more of a nightmare -- simply add your comment to the article in the box below. No one's two cents are ever turned away!

The Motley Fool Inside Value team looks for beaten down stocks that are selling at bargain prices well below their intrinsic value. To see the full list of cheap companies the service is recommending today, take a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Dave Mock dreams of stocks and sugarplum fairies, but not together. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Petrobras is an Income Investor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy screens the good, the bad and the ugly.