Whether it's the corporate lunchroom, your cubicle, or the local watering hole after work, there are regular places we gather to discuss news, sports, or -- if you're like us -- stocks. At Motley Fool CAPS, we gather around the virtual water cooler daily to rate stocks and delve into their merits as investments.

Those in our 145,000-strong CAPS community -- where members give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to about 5,300 stocks -- seek businesses they think will outperform the market. Below, we'll take a look at some of the most popular and talked-about stocks in CAPS and examine whether you think they'll continue their winning ways.

Stock

CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

Number of Calls

% Outperform Calls

Accenture (NYSE:ACN)

****

1,184

95%

Allegheny Technologies (NYSE:ATI)

*****

1,185

95%

Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM)

****

1,218

97%

General Dynamics (NYSE:GD)

****

1,204

95%

Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX)

****

1,201

95%

A tall drink of water
While it should hardly raise an eyebrow that Accenture or Gillette would be among the companies ending their advertising relationship with Tiger Woods, it's easy to see why Nike (NYSE:NKE) says it will continue endorsing the golf star. It has a lot invested in the industry, generating $650 million in annual sales from the sport.

On the other hand, although Accenture spent $50 million on advertising spots and Woods played a starring role in most of them, the consulting company is still facing a difficult environment. First-quarter profits were down 7% from last year on revenues that were 11% lower. Spending by corporate clients was down for the period, which should also affect the current quarter's results, but with momentum building in a number of business lines, the company raised guidance for the full year.

Nike, which builds it brands with athletes, can remain committed to its strategies. But companies like Accenture or watchmaker Tag Heuer that rely on a person's halo effect need to move on quickly to ensure their reputations aren't tarnished by scandal, particularly in a recession. Investors are smart to ignore the Tiger Woods story altogether, and, as CAPS member frothyjowels has done, focus instead on Accenture's abilities as a global consulting and outsourcing company.

Accenture is tops in the consulting industry and sits poised to grow further into the coming decade. Despite recent competition from IBM, Dell, Wipro and Tata, Accenture's infrastructure and experience gives it a longterm advantage over its competitors. The company continues to establish itself in emerging markets, focusing recent attention on business in India. They have recently hiked the dividend 50%, the debt-equity ratio is very low, and Accenture still sports a low P/E with plenty of free cash flow. I have this stock on my shortlist of longterm holdings and although they are strictly speaking not a "tech" stock, they move up and down with the rest of the techs, so I rate them among the upper handful worth owning in that sector.

Taking flight
Specialty metals maker Allegheny Technologies just might be able to take wing, with Boeing (NYSE:BA) finally getting its Dreamliner 787 off the tarmac. That means titanium producers could be dealing with increased demand, because about 20% of the aircraft is expected to require the lighter-than-aluminum metal.

Back in October, lifebuyer predicted the 787's maiden voyage would be a good sign.

Titanium demand will pick up in mid 2010 with ramp up of 787 production on 1st production line, soon to be followed by addition of a second production line. Ti Inventory should reduce short term (1 to 2 year) Ti sponge price [volatility] and profitability but a stabilized cost structure (Labor, Magnesium, Electricity, Natural Gas and Ti Scrap) along with production base filling volumes will provide conservative returns in the 1-2 year period. Look for increased revenue and earnings [beginning] in late 2011 [and accelerating] into 2012.

In addition, Allegheny Technologies recently reported improvement in each of its business lines, including aerospace, defense, and oil and gas. While lower costs and a restructured business are helping the most, the metals company is also experiencing an increase in volume that is having a direct impact on the bottom line.

Gather 'round
With so many good opinions about today's top companies, why not grab a pointy paper cup from the dispenser and join us at the Motley Fool CAPS water cooler? Your input can help guide other investors to stocks with bright prospects for growth. 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.

Sign up today for the completely free service and let us hear what you have to say about the great and almost-great companies that interest you.

Accenture, General Dynamics, and Paychex are all Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Paychex is an Income Investor selection. Brookfield Asset Management is a Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.