Based on the aggregated intelligence of 170,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, perishable-food retailer The Fresh Market (Nasdaq: TFM) has earned a respected four-star ranking.

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

Fresh Market facts

Headquarters (Founded) Greensboro, N.C. (1981)
Market Cap $1.89 billion
Industry Grocery stores
Trailing-12-Month Revenue $974.21 million

President/CEO Craig Carlock (since 2009)

CFO Lisa Klinger (since 2009)

Trailing-12-Month Return on Equity 34.3%
Cash/Debt $3.66 million / $82.45 million

Kroger (NYSE: KR)

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT)

Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI)

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

On CAPS, 98% of the 84 members who have rated Fresh Market believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bulls include All-Star TMFBreakerForce and RallyCry.

Earlier this year, TMFBreakerForce touched on Fresh Market's enticing growth potential: "My reason for investing in TFM has more to do with the smaller store size, very high margins, and the small numbers of locations. With only 100 stores, management believes the market can support at least 500, leaving plenty of room for growth."

Over the next five years, in fact, Fresh Market is expected to grow its bottom line at a brisk rate of 21% annually. That's faster than listed rivals Kroger (9.2%), Wal-Mart (10.3%), and Whole Foods (16.7%). 

CAPS member RallyCry elaborates on the bull case:

I genuinely believe it is a status symbol to shop at The Fresh Market, the way its a status sign to shop at a BMW dealership or high end clothing store like Bloomingdale's. ...

Drilling down deeper into specifics, The Fresh Market's store size is small enough to allow for better inventory management, and the diagonal floor layout requires you to pass a ton of items before you can move back to the checkout. With only a hundred stores, the growth potential seems relatively large. A rebound in consumer spending could show up soon in this higher end segment of the retail market. Risks that may creep up in a few years may include competition from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, local grocery chains, higher commodity prices, and higher transportation costs. However these higher costs of doing business should mostly handcuff discount retailers margins who can not easily pass higher costs onto the customer. It's my feeling that on balance The Fresh Market will be a successful investment in the next 1-3 years.

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