Like the oaf with a lampshade on his head at the end of a very long party, the market is headed for a hangover -- if, that is, it's not experiencing one already. Just check this chart for all of this year's stomach-churning action, and ask yourself -- given the overall downward spiral we've been on -- whether maybe, just maybe, an intervention might be in order.
As any psychiatrist worth his or her couch can tell you, we can only control our own actions. For all too many of us, that can be tough to do. For instance, we may choose to get active during troubled times and double down on Sunoco (NYSE: SUN ) just as its shares began to slide -- all the way down to $38.83, as of Friday's market close.
That's more than 50% below its yearly high, a low-water mark exceeded by the likes of Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) , AMR (NYSE: AMR ) , and Lennar (NYSE: LEN ) . Indeed, an investment of $1,000 made a year ago in any of those names would be worth less than $400 today. Similar chunks of change plunked down on financial concerns such as Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM ) , E*Trade (Nasdaq: ETFC ) , and CIT Group (NYSE: CIT ) would be worth less than $200.
Just the facts, ma'am
Those facts, of course, could be excellent news for prospective investors with time on their hands and the inclination to determine whether this clutch of money-losers has hit bottom -- just sticking with the metaphor here, folks -- and is ready to sober up for shareholders. At these prices, the question is: Are these companies values or value traps?
If it's your passion to get to the bottom of fiscal mysteries such as those outlined above, it's time to hit the balance sheets, gauging top-line revenue growth (where, 2007 notwithstanding, Lennar looks like a strong contender), cash flow (Sprint deserves a look there), and earnings expectations (Sunoco boasts a double-digit forecast) against a dicey economic backdrop that, at least in the near term, seems poised to become dicier still.
However, if you already have a full-time job -- not to mention friends, family, and a plasma television you'd like to spend quality (and quantity) time with -- you probably want a solution simpler than balance-sheet number-crunching during your downtime.
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At the time of publication, Shannon Zimmerman didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Sprint Nextel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.