When a stock hits a fresh low, it can either signal a dirt cheap dream stock or a dreadful stock to avoid. Separating the wheat from the chaff is difficult, but finding well-run companies at bargain-basement prices is a great way to accumulate a fortune over the long run.

With that in mind, we'll use the aggregate intelligence of the 125,000 investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS to see what the community is saying about stocks hitting 52-week lows today. The community's approval (signified by four- and five-star ratings) could indicate that further research is in order.

Here are three such stocks:

Company

Today’s Intraday Price

Industry

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Fools Saying Outperform

The China Fund
(NYSE:CHN)

$15.75

Capital Markets

5 Stars

258 of 267

Harvest Natural Resources
(NYSE:HNR)

$4.08

Oil, Gas and Consumable Fuels

4 Stars

341 of 361

iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index
(NYSE:OIL)

$22.10

Oil, Gas and Consumable Fuels

3 Stars

336 of 400

Source: Motley Fool CAPS, as of Dec. 22, 2008.

Top-Rated capital markets companies:

  • Knight Capital Group (NASDAQ:NITE): Stock price is 7% higher than last year.
  • streetTRACKS Gold Trust (NYSE:GLD): Stock price is 4% higher than last year.

Top-Rated oil, gas and consumable fuels companies:

  • VAALCO Energy (NYSE:EGY): Stock price is 10% higher than last year.
  • Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE:PBR.A): Stock price is % lower than last year.

Join us on CAPS to learn more about these and countless other interesting stock ideas.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.