"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 quotationists, this one holds a special place in the hearts of Foolish investors. Are you looking to "buy low" so as to 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 may lie the makings of a contrarian investor's shopping list. 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:

Currently
Fetching

CAPS
Rating

Spartan Motors  (NASDAQ:SPAR)

$7.52

****

Smith & Wesson  (NASDAQ:SWHC)

$6.30

***

SLM (NYSE:SLM)

$26.69

**

Acacia Research  (NASDAQ:ACTG)

$9.26

**

Brooke  (NASDAQ:BXXX)

$6.01

**

Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Down Last Month" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. 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 is that 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).

As luck would have it, investors do see a bargain this week, in the form of a down-and-dirty motor vehicle chassis and body maker. Spartan Motors, best known as a builder of ambulances and firetrucks, also builds motor home chassis for Fleetwood (NYSE:FLE) and Newmar. It recently entered the burgeoning new market for "mine-resistant, ambush-protected" (MRAP) armored vehicles, building MRAP chassis for major defense contractors such as General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) and BAE Systems -- expanding its revenue base and perhaps as importantly, raising its profile among investors dramatically.

The bull case for Spartan Motors
Back2BeBad2 tells us about Spartan's new line of business: "SPAR is benefiting from the huge demand for MRAP vehicles for our troops overseas. Several defense contractors are bidding for these contracts and then passing the chassis building part on to SPAR."

Focusing on the core of the business, CAPS All-Star BearTrade replies:

Spartan Motors build armored personnel carriers which I know nothing about. It also build fire apparatus chassis which I know very well. This is a solid company which has been around for a long time and is well respected in the fire service. The company seems to have controlled debt, make a nice profit and even gives out a dividend. If you were looking for a manufacturing company I would give this company serious consideration.

So why is Wall Street selling? I'm honestly not sure. LokeyRS reminds us that last quarter:

EPS took a hit, however ... It beat sales estimates! In order to match the future sales earnings, SPAR took a educated risk, and doubled it's manufacturing base. They greatly increased assets as well, and used company case flow to finance the purchases. The remaining was placed on low-stake debt, of which is very manageable. They are now able to handle an increased order amount.

And if you believe Wall Street, it's going to need the extra manufacturing capacity. The handful of analysts following this stock agree that it's likely to post 50% sales growth this year, followed by 27% in 2008. And if those numbers aren't good enough for you, take a look at the earnings estimates. Wall Street is predicting 46% profit growth next year, and an average of 20% annual profits growth over the next five years.

I have to say -- for a stock selling for just 12 times trailing earnings, that sounds mighty attractive. (Better still would be if Spartan generated a bit of free cash flow. But it hasn't managed to accomplish that since the second quarter of 2005.)

Time to chime in
Of course, the aim of this column isn't just to tell you what I think about Spartan Motors -- or even what the other CAPS players are saying. We also want to hear your thoughts on the company. Does the lack of free cash flow worry you, or are GAAP profits enough to win this one a place in your portfolio? If you've got an opinion, we've got a place to voice it.

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

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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. 1,261 out of more than 41,000 rated players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.