Based on the aggregated intelligence of 170,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, clinical research specialist ICON (Nasdaq: ICLR) has earned a coveted five-star ranking.

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

ICON facts

Headquarters (founded) Dublin (1990)
Market Cap $1.5 billion
Industry Medical labs and research
Trailing-12-Month Revenue $910.2 million

CEO Peter Gray (since 2002)

CFO Ciaran Murray (since 2005)

Return on Equity (average, past 3 years) 15.9%
Cash/Debt $231.8 million / $0

Covance (NYSE: CVD)

Kendle International (Nasdaq: KNDL)

Pharmaceutical Product Development (Nasdaq: PPDI)

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

On CAPS, 98% of the 376 members who have rated ICON believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bulls include All-Star GundersonGroup, who is ranked in the top 10% of our community, and RENNOTA.

Earlier this year, GundersonGroup tapped ICON as a solid selection: "This company has quietly built its revenue, cash flow, book value and customer base over the past 10+ years. ... They have proven they are legitimate and have survived in environments that have destroyed many wonder-kid creations."

In fact, ICON's three-year average return on equity of 15.9% tops that of listed rivals Covance (11.3%), Kendle (5%), and Pharmaceutical Product Development (12.5%).

CAPS member RENNOTA elaborates on the ICON bull case:

This company produces some pretty impressive margins, while still maintaining a very healthy balance sheet. The firm also sticks to its core competencies beautifully, indicating a disciplined, intelligent management.

I also like this stock because, in addition to currently looking attractive, it incorporates a larger, macro play. It stands to grow revenue as pharmaceutical companies increasingly outsource their testing operations in an effort to cut costs. I think this stock appears poised to outperform the broad market index.

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