Get Ready for the Bounce

"Don't catch a falling knife," as the old saw commands. (Pardon my mixing a cutlery metaphor.) The idea of buying a former superstar stock at a discount price certainly has its attractions, but you've got to make sure you catch the haft -- not the blade. That's where Motley Fool CAPS comes in.

Today, we once again stand beneath Mr. Market's silverware drawer, measuring which knives have fallen the farthest. Then we'll call on CAPS to ask which of these stocks -- if any -- Foolish investors believe are ready for a rebound. Let's meet today's list of contenders, drawn from the latest "52-Week Lows" list at Nasdaq.com:

52-Week High

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating(5 max):

VCA Antech (NASDAQ:WOOF)

$46.23

$26.71

****

Cerner (NASDAQ:CERN)

$66.17

$38.40

****

HLTH  (NASDAQ:HLTH)

$16.56

$9.71

****

Interwoven  (NASDAQ:IWOV)

$17.26

$11.26

****

Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL)

$81.68

$41.21

***

Companies are selected from the "NASDAQ 52-Week Low" list published on Nasdaq.com on the Saturday following close of trading last week. 52-week high and current pricing provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Knives and knaves
If there's one good thing about a broad-based market sell-off, it's that you find a lot of terrific companies getting the ol' baby 'n' bathwater treatment. Tossed out on their rosy little bums as if they were bums of another sort. You know -- just know -- that some of these babies are gonna bounce right back once the suds subside.

This week, our list of companies hitting 52-week lows is once again chock-full of high-rated stocks. With the exception of so-so Apollo, every company here rates above average. So which of our quartet of four-starred stocks shall we profile? The animal lover in me insists that we choose the cutest little ticker symbol in the window. So sit, stay, and listen, while we fetch...

The bull case for VCA Antech
We'll start with an introduction to the company, courtesy of CAPS All-Star Ayax2006:

VCA Antech, Inc. operates as an animal health care services company in the United States. It provides veterinary services and diagnostic testing to support veterinary care; and sells diagnostic imaging equipment, and other medical technology products and related services to the veterinary market. The company operates in three segments: Laboratory, Animal Hospital, and Medical Technology.

To which dbjella responds:

People and their pets is enough for me. Once my friend spent 10k for back surgery for their dog. I knew there was lots of potential.

harrykobrak goes into more detail about why this stock is no dog:

VCA Antech is effectively executing a consolidation strategy in the veterinary services market. The business has all of the advantages of health care with humans, with the added advantages that the market is more fragmented and more cash oriented (still relatively little impact from insurance companies).

Yet interestingly, every single investor on record with a bullish pitch for VCA Antech ... is losing to the market. Over the past year, VCA Antech stock has lost 26% of its value -- better than similarly pet-focused Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick PetSmart (Nasdaq: PETM  ) , but far worse than either the S&P 500 or pet 'scrips-by-mail firm PetMed Express (Nasdaq: PETS  ) -- taking the reputation of every one of its most vocal backers down with it.

But that could certainly change. When I look at the stock, it's far from grossly overpriced today. Selling for 19 times trailing earnings, but projected to grow at 16% per year over the next half-decade, VCA Antech sells for an entirely reasonable 1.2 PEG. While it's not yet a howling buy, VCA Antech looks entirely bounce-worthy to me.

Time to chime in
Of course, the aim of this column isn't just to tell you what I think about VCA Antech -- or even what other CAPS players are saying. We really want to hear your thoughts. Does this stock deserve a forever home in your portfolio, or is it destined for a plot in the Pet Sematary? Click on over to Motley Fool CAPS and tell us what you think.

Motley Fool CAPS: It's fun, it's free, and it just might make you famous.


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