"We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy, and to be greedy only when others are fearful." -- Warren Buffett

Out of the quadrillions of quotations quarried from that most loquacious of learned luminaries, this one holds a special place in the hearts of Foolish investors. Are you looking to "buy low" and later "sell high?" If so, your best chance of getting that initial low entry price comes when panicked sellers are unloading their shares at whatever price is on offer.

In today's column, we search the ranks of Wall Street's motivated sellers, and note which stocks they're most frantic to unload. Therein, methinks, lies the makings of a contrarian's Christmas list (to self). But don't just take my word for it. Before you decide to go in through Wall Street's out door, check your thinking against the collective intelligence of Motley Fool CAPS investors.

Today's contenders include:

30-day price decline

Currently fetching

CAPS rating









America 's Car-Mart (NASDAQ:CRMT)








bebe stores (NASDAQ:BEBE)




Gymboree (NASDAQ:GYMB)








Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Down Last Month" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following last week's close of trading. Price decline and current pricing also provided by MSN Money on the same date. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

The problem with pessimism
The problem with going against the grain on Wall Street? When professional traders get pessimistic, their grim outlook can become a self-fulfilling prophecy -- at least in the short term. The more desperate institutions become to abandon a stock, the lower the price they'll accept to get rid of it. And as their "ask" prices drop, the "bid" prices of buyers will fall in tandem, creating the very price decline that they feared in the first place.

Until the selling stops.

In through the out door
When it will stop is anybody's guess. But until it does, savvy investors have a chance to "get greedy," and snap up some bargains from these fearful sellers (if bargains they truly be). Which of the above seven stocks fits the bill? In today's list, we see three instances in which Main Street agrees with Wall Street, three more where our lay analysts say Wall Street's worrying too much, and one where CAPS says the professionals are just flat-out wrong.

Here's what Fools are saying about cord-blood warehouse-cum-stem cell research shop ViaCell, which CAPS raters endorse by a 40-to-1 margin:

  • gaf12 , who places in the rarefied top 1% of CAPS raters, sees "no reason to believe that advances in technology won't improve people's perception that these stem cells can save lives without using embryonic cells."
  • All-star CAPS player specialtybroker takes the Peter Lynch buy-what-you-know approach, observing that "they literally sell this from LaMas to the delivery room. Its almost like high pressure sales, and its working (they got me- lol)."
  • ViaCell marks the first appearance in this column of a company that yours Fool-y has rated on CAPS. Here's what I had to say when I recommended the stock four months ago: "ViaCell will either crash and burn -- which is the story the numbers tell, as we see SG&A costs rising much faster than sales -- or prove a multiple-bagger as the positive free cash flow of its ViaCord subsidiary keeps the research arm alive long enough to make us all live forever. Don't take this rating too seriously, because I honestly feel 50/50 it could go either way at this point, but I think the potential rewards outweigh the risks on this one. I'm a buyer at this sub-$4 level."

Thanks to a helpful push (off a cliff) from Wall Street's institutional traders, ViaCell is rapidly falling back toward the "sub-$4 level" at which I endorsed it lo those four months ago. Is this fate giving us another bite at the apple? And even if that's so, who's to say there's no worm at ViaCell's core?

Forty CAPS players and counting, that's who. Would you like to be No. 41? Check out what our lay analysts have to say on CAPS -- about ViaCell, or any of the other companies named above. While you're at it, tell us what you think.

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

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 457 out of more than 16,000 raters. bebe stores is a Stock Advisor pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.