Based on the aggregated intelligence of 170,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, Australian mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) has earned a respected four-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at BHP's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

BHP facts

Headquarters (Founded)

Melbourne, Australia (1885)

Market Cap

$265.6 billion

Industry

Diversified metals and mining

Trailing-12-Month Revenue

$62.61 billion

Management

CEO Marius Kloppers (since 2007)

CFO Alexandre Vanselow (since 2006)

Return on Equity (Average, Past 3 Years)

31%

Cash/Debt

$16.6 billion / $15.96 billion

Dividend Yield

1.9%

Competitors

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX)

Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO)

Vale (NYSE: VALE)

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 97% of the 2,737 members who have rated BHP believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bulls include All-Star DarthMaul09, who is ranked in the top 1% of our community, and ChaiLatte.

Late last year, DarthMaul09 wrote that BHP "will likely do well in spite of its shopaholic leadership." Our CAPS All-Star concludes: "They appear to have a play on just about every available commodity growth story for 2011, with the exception of agriculture, which is probably why they wanted [PotashCorp]."

In fact, BHP's three-year average return on equity of 31% easily tops that of mining rivals like Freeport (1.6%), Rio Tinto (22.2%), and Vale (21.6%).

CAPS member ChaiLatte elaborates on the bull case:

BHP has seen strong earnings for 3 years leading up to 2010. With a slowdown in 2009 due to the [global financial crisis]. The firm has reduced geographic segmentation in Europe and but greatly increased in China. China is growing and expanding rapidly. With more buildings need to be built, more mining and materials are going to be needed. BHP has realised this and capitalised on it.

What do you think about BHP, or any other stock for that matter? If you want to retire rich, you need to put together the best portfolio you can. Owning exceptional stocks is a surefire way to secure your financial future, and on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are working every day to find them. CAPS is 100% free, so get started!

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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