Even on the market's worst days, buyout news and other short-term forces can send individual stocks up by 10%, 25%, even 50%.        

For example, shares in Omniture jumped 26% last week when Adobe Systems said it would pay top dollar -- $1.8 billion -- for the company.

But beyond less-predictable events like that one are stocks with fundamentally compelling reasons for recent momentum. The trick is to find those stocks. That's where Motley Fool CAPS comes in.

The story behind the story
CAPS is no crowd of lemmings. Its best-performing members' opinions do more to shape each company's rating than the picks of poorer-performing peers. Let's use the collective wisdom of more than 140,000 CAPS members to filter out the noise and find companies offering strong momentum.

We'll use CAPS' handy stock screening tool to quickly zero in on companies with a price increase of at least 25% in the past four weeks, a market cap of greater than $100 million, and a beta of less than 3. Below is a sample of stocks that our screen returned. If you'd like, run this screen yourself -- just keep in mind that results may change as the market does.

Company

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

4-Week
Price Change

Danaos

****

59.5%

E*TRADE Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC)

****

30.5%

Western Refining (NYSE:WNR)

****

26.4%

Nokia (NYSE:NOK)

****

25.7%

NovaGold Resources

***

39.6%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return from Aug. 21 through Sept. 18.

Over a barrel
After Western Refining swung to a second-quarter loss, like refining giant Valero (NYSE:VLO), and increased the initial size of an offering, its shares shed a large amount of value over several months. Despite the difficulties, some CAPS members like the long-term outlook for Western Refining, as well as its attractive valuation. Shares have recovered a bit recently as refiners enjoyed an end-of-summer increase in demand; gasoline inventories fell by 3 million barrels heading into the Labor Day weekend. The pickup in demand isn't expected to continue for too long, and some analysts predict a difficult environment in the refining sector into next year as weak fundamentals still linger. Many refiners still face overcapacity and margin pressure, and some, like Valero and Tesoro (NYSE:TSO), are slashing budgets while they wait for a full recovery. At this point, though, 95% of the 896 CAPS members rating Western Refining see it outperforming the market.

One finger, many pies
Nokia has been busy spinning a few more plates lately. The company is working to regain its prominence in the smartphone space also inhabited by Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Apple. To help on this front, Nokia is launching a high-end Linux-based handset, updating its N97 model with the N97 mini, making a big push into social networking by increasing connectivity to Facebook, and acquiring social networking Web startup Plum. Improving its app store, the Ovi Store, is also a top priority.

And Nokia is moving into the netbook business with its Booklet 3G, which will go up against competitors like Hewlett-Packard and Dell (NASDAQ:DELL). Despite the numerous challenges, a good portion of CAPS members rating Nokia think it's poised to outperform the market: Close to 93% of the 2,664 CAPS members rating it expect the stock to beat the broader market.

And you?
What's your story? Whether you buy the tale of a stock that's soaring or souring, your own research is more important than collective opinions. But these collective opinions can make your due diligence a whole lot easier.

Add your take on these or any of the other 5,300 stocks that our 140,000-plus members have covered in Motley Fool CAPS. It's totally free to be a part of the community, and the payback is more than worth it.

The Motley Fool Inside Value team looks for beaten-down stocks selling at 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 has his own story, but there's no "happily ever after" at the end of it. He doesn't own shares of companies mentioned here. Apple, Omniture, and Adobe Systems are Stock Advisor selections. Dell and Nokia are Inside Value recommendations. The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.