"The bigger they are, the harder they fall." It's the worst nightmare of every investor in today's market -- buying a rocket stock just before it takes a nosedive.

Every day, WSJ.com publishes a list of stocks whose shares have just hit new 52-week highs. And every day, investors read the list and tremble -- some with greed, others with terror. On our Motley Fool CAPS investing community, these top stocks usually enjoy favorable ratings, since everyone loves a winner.

But not always ...


52-Week Low

Recent Price

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

ValueClick  (NASDAQ:VCLK)




Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR)








Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY)




Starbucks  (NASDAQ:SBUX)




Companies are selected from the "New Highs & Lows" lists published on WSJ.com on Friday last week. 52-week low and recent price provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Everybody loves a winner
The Dow is closing on 10,000, and everything old is new again. As growth investors return to the markets, they're flocking to their old faves -- eBay and Starbucks, last-man-standing-in-retail Bed Bath & Beyond, and that perpetual thorn in Cisco's side, Juniper Networks.

But what's this you say? None of these popular names deserves to be bought, and even the best of 'em merits only three stars on CAPS? That just because these stocks have gone up, doesn't mean they're going to keep going up? Shocking!

But the biggest shock of all may be which of today's highfliers Fools love best. Let's read all about it now:

The bull case for ValueClick
As far back as last year, CAPS All-Star gtfann had spotted the value in ValueClick: "Low ... P/E, P/B, P/CF ... Good profitability (ROA and ROE), Strong Balance Sheet ... No Long-term Debt. People will be looking for ways to supplement their income during the recession ... ValueClick makes it easy to add advertisements to webpages."

And that's just the business case. Fellow All-Star ValueMrk soon added that with its "great cash position ... producing free cash and no debt ... One cannot help to notice if this could be a potential takeover target ... Microsoft [ (NASDAQ:MSFT)] forget Yahoo [ (NASDAQ:YHOO)] and Google-get ValueClick!"

ESTES27112 agreed with the takeover argument. Writing last summer, this CAPS member described ValueClick as "[p]urely a buyout play, I would be shocked if this company wasn't bought in the next 5 years at an enormous premium to current value (probably 100% or more premium)." (The stock's share price was then $19.)

And what can I say, Fools? I agree. Fact is, over on Motley Fool CAPS, even I have penned a pitch in favor of ValueClick (and yes, I'm in the green). That pitch is a few months out of date, though, so let me update my thinking on the stock for you.

Over the last 12 terrible, recessionary months, ValueClick has weathered the storm with aplomb. Sure, the company reports negative net earnings over the last 12 months, but the past two quarters were solidly profitable. If you examine the firm's cash flow statement closely, you'll find that ValueClick has in fact been generating plenty of free cash. Free cash amounts to a tidy $126 million haul, meaning that this stock currently sells for less than nine times the amount of cash it makes in a year.

If the company grows anywhere near the 15%-per-year pace that analysts predict for the next five years, that's a steal of a deal. Throw in $135 million in cash on the balance sheet, with still no debt, and the crime escalates to highway robbery. Simply put, this stock's a winner.

Time to chime in
Of course, that's just my opinion (albeit one shared by more than 554 CAPS members who've recommended the stock). But if you want to disagree, feel free. Just click on over to Motley Fool CAPS and tell us why.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Bed Bath & Beyond, eBay, and Starbucks are Stock Advisor recommendations. Microsoft and Starbucks are Inside Value selections. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks.

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. 704 out of more than 140,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.