When looking for opportunities, the 52-week low list can be a good place to start. Yesterday, Kraft Foods' (NYSE:KFT) stock closed at $29.46 and set a new 52-week low of $29.36. The previous 52-week low was several dimes higher.

To start my search, I checked out some media reports. An article about Kraft from the Associated Press caught my eye. One analyst downgraded the company over concerns of inflationary pressures resulting from increasingly expensive commodity costs caused by rising energy prices. Competitive challenges in Europe were also a factor. But Kraft still believes it will earn somewhere between $1.73 and $1.78 per share for the year, assuming that commodity costs don't get too far out of whack.

At $29.50 a stub with expectations of about $1.75 per share of earnings, the stock sports a P/E ratio of about 17. According to Yahoo!'s finance section, analysts expect the company to grow earnings at about 7% over the next five years. From a PEG perspective, the company looks expensive at 2.4.

However, let's go further. Let's look at the company's relatively young dividend history. When Kraft first began paying dividends back in August 2001, the quarterly payout was $0.13. Today, that quarterly payout is $0.23, which is a 77% increase since those first checks were cut. That's some nice growth. And that $0.23 figure was the result of a recent increase, as fellow dividend watcher Rick Munarriz found out. Reinvested dividends can be quite powerful over a significant timeframe.

Free cash flow-wise, Kraft is doing pretty well. From the 2004 annual report, we see a three-year review of cash flow statements. Subtracting capital expenditures from net cash from operations, I come up with the following free cash flow numbers:

  • 2002: $2.54 billion
  • 2003: $3.03 billion
  • 2004: $3.00 billion

Granted, that doesn't show immense growth in this metric, and a look at the recent 10Q shows that free cash flow decreased 13% to $851 million for the six months ended June 30 compared to the year-ago similar time period. Still, that's enough to cover the dividend and Kraft should continue to generate lots of free cash over its lifetime.

Kraft currently sports a yield of about 3% and is trading near a new 52-week low. If you're a long-term investor, I'd suggest that the stock might present a value, especially if you intend to hold for many years. Kraft has a ton of well-known brands, such as Oreo cookies, Sanka coffee, and Oscar Mayer weiners. Sure, commodity prices will be an issue for a while, but the stock could be a nice addition to a well-diversified portfolio. Branded consumer products companies like Kraft, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Motley Fool Inside Value pick Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), and Clorox (NYSE:CLX) are oftentimes great investments over the long haul -- especially when investing at 52-week lows. It won't grow quickly, and it may stay down for a while (it could even go lower from here), but great companies eventually reward.

Learn a new Kraft with these Foolish Takes:

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.