"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."

So goes the thesis of my weekly Fool.com column "Get Ready for the Bounce." Therein, I run the 52-week-lows list compiled by Nasdaq.com through the "wisdom of crowds" meter that we call Motley Fool CAPS. And out the other end comes a list of stocks that have fallen so far that Foolish investors figure they're just bound to bounce back soon.

But is there a way to cash in on fallen angels that've plummeted even further? Perhaps. If a stock that's fallen for one year straight has headroom, then maybe a stock that's fallen even farther, and longer, has room to soar back even higher -- in which case, an apparently left-for-dead stock could offer us a drop-dead gorgeous entry price. We're going to test that thesis today, starting with five stocks that just hit their five-year lows:


Recent Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5):

Campbell Soup  (NYSE:CPB)



Princeton Revue (NASDAQ:REVU)



ICx Technologies (NASDAQ:ICXT)



Companies are selected from the "New 5-Year Lows" list published on MSN Money on Friday. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Left for dead? Or drop-dead gorgeous?
The Dow's bounced back from its March lows, with the Diamond ETF (NYSE:DIA), for example, now trading up 23% over just a few short weeks. But not everyone's feeling the joy. To the contrary, each of the stocks listed above has shed between 28% and 48% of its value over the past year alone, and currently sits at or near its five-year low.

Wall Street's left 'em for dead, and even Main Street investors are hedging their bets. But while we're not too keen on Princeton's prospects, and downright antsy about ICx, Fools defy the Street's wisdom and continue to insist:

Campbell's ... soup is good food
While it now appears that the world will not, in fact, end a week from Thursday, we're still in a recession. And recessions entail belt-tightening and a focus on basic needs. Thus, pheadbaq picked Campbell's to outperform back in October based on the company's selling "[c]heap goods in a punishing economy. Business should come up since people who buy more expensive goods will be looking to cut costs."

This logic resonates, too, with CAPS All-Star Seafairer, who praises the company for offering a "basic food staple of the broke."

Did I say Seafairer praised Campbell? Fellow All-Star xserver might argue this was damning with faint praise. Far from grouping Campbell with other traditional recession-resistant names -- Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) and Dollar General, for example, or Altria (NYSE:MO) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) -- xserver prefers to think of Campbell as a growth story and a purveyor of premium brands. He reminds us that in addition to its role as a recession-resistant play, Campbell offers investors a chance to expand "into Russia & China." Plus, Campbell is "more than soup: Pepperidge Farms, Prego, ... V-8 juice."

Buy the numbers
Will Campbell capitalize on these assets and go on to crush the market, recession-in and recession-out? I'm not so sure. Problem is, the brands aren't the only thing "premium" about Campbell -- the stock's also selling for quite a premium price.

Oh, I understand that it doesn't look that way at first. Campbell supposedly "earned" $1.1 billion in the last four quarters, giving the stock a meager 8 P/E. It boasts a superb, double-digit profit margin, and pays out a generous 4.0% dividend. And yes, all these things make Campbell look like a bargain on the surface.

Scoop a little deeper into the soup pot, though, and I'm not sure you'll be as pleased with what fills your ladle. For one thing, analysts expect Campbell to grow at less than 7% per year over the next five years, and its valuation may be too generous. You see, while Campbell reported $1.1 billion in profit, it actually only generated about $454 million in free cash flow -- 40% of its reported profit. Nor is this a major aberration. Fact is, during the past five years of better economic health, the company averaged less than $600 million in cash production.

Why the sudden jump in earnings? Campbell sold off several businesses in 2008, and spooned in more than $800 million in the process.  Those moves make the stock look suspiciously cheap. Back out that one-off profit, and the stock is priced at a much steeper 15 times earnings.

Time to chime in
Put it all together, and I fear Campbell may turn out to be a classic value trap: a company that's got everything going for it macroeconomically, that seems cheap enough to capitalize on it -- yet still manages to underperform. Far from gorgeous, Campbell looks like dead money to me.

But hey -- that's just my opinion. What's yours? If you believe Campbell's not just "good food" but also a good stock, then click on over to Motley Fool CAPS and give us a shout.

Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Princeton Review is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Procter & Gamble is a Income Investor recommendation, and the Fool owns shares of it.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 280 out of more than 130,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.