The good news is that your air conditioner and telephone lines are safer than they've been in a while.

When copper prices moved through the $4 barrier earlier this year, it was "Katy bar the door" for anything containing the red metal. But now that copper has joined the commodity slide, you can buy a pound for just over $3.30, and a share of Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) commands a third less than it did in June.

So what to do with Freeport: buy, sell, or hold? The answer to that question depends on your view of where copper prices may be headed over, say, the next year. After all, copper is Freeport's bread and butter. But we can't know with any certainty how much copper prices will retrench, as the dollar strengthens against the euro, and economies around the world soften to one degree or another.

My approach to evaluating the company's prospects involves a simple process. First, let's look at a key Freeport metric. Even in a slipping commodities market, it's hard to find a company with anything approaching Freeport's record for growth and profitability being accorded a forward price-to-earnings ratio of just 6.4 times. And while a prolonged slump in copper, gold, and molybdenum prices could pop that number up somewhat (meaning that earnings expectations could slide), given its current starting point, it's difficult to envision a rise to a level where Freeport becomes expensive relative to the market.

But what about copper prices? Could they return to and remain at the much lower levels of the past? Given that growing Asian demand is pushing up prices, that seems unlikely. Witness Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), which last week told us that it's having difficulty satisfying demand in Asia for its equipment.

At the same time, iron ore purveyors Vale (NYSE:RIO), BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), and Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) are shipping as much of their mineral to China as they can scoop up. While there isn't a one-to-one correlation between the demand levels for copper and steel, an economy that's buying Caterpillar equipment hand over fist and manufacturing steel at a breakneck pace isn't likely to suddenly lose its need for copper.

So for my money, Freeport is fast on its way to being a strong buy-and-hold opportunity. In fact, I'd employ my two-week rule: Once copper prices hold reasonably well for a couple of weeks, I'd look to begin building a position in what really is a very solid company.

Freeport-McMoRan has been accorded a four-star rating by the members of the Motley Fool CAPS community. Does that include your opinion?

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have financial positions in any of the companies mentioned above. He does, however, welcome your questions and comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.