We live in a country of $5 foot-long sandwiches and dollar burgers. Why not embrace the growing number of stocks trading for $10 or less these days?

Every month -- on the third Monday of the month -- I pick out five promising growth stocks trading in the single digits. I'll be at it again in a few weeks, but the market's choppy ways are washing a ton of the country's largest companies below the $10 mark.

The upside of downsides
A low price can be desirable for a stock. Retail investors find it easier to visualize a low-priced stock catapulting higher, even if it really takes the same effort for a $10 company to go to $20 as it does for a $50 stock to double to $100.

It explains why stock splits are so popular during bull markets. However, even stock splits know better than to begin toiling in the single digits. A $60 stock may declare a 2-for-1 split or perhaps even a 3-for-1 event, but you know it would never occur to a company to declare a 10-for-1 split. That would price the new shares at $6 apiece, evoking a negative perception of value instead of an upbeat view.

Yes, a stock at $6 wouldn't be all that attractive of an entry point to a conservative investor. Tell that to Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), which closed at exactly $6 yesterday.

Here is a list of the largest stateside companies that closed below the $10 mark yesterday. Prepare yourself to revisit plenty of household names.

 

2/2/09

Market Cap

Bank of America

$6.00

$38.4 billion

Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)

$9.43

$33.8 billion

Citigroup (NYSE:C)

$3.65

$19.9 billion

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL)

$9.31

$18.1 billion

Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX)

$8.78

$13.2 billion

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT)

$9.41

$12.5 billion

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI)

$8.96

$11.8 billion

Source: MSN Money.

They're all going to laugh at you
Misery loves company, and it's certainly taken a shine to these companies. The Bank of America and Citigroup stories are well documented. They remain among the market's most actively traded stocks, week in and week out.

Time Warner is just another media giant being smacked down by dimming prospects of the advertising dollar. Dell was once the computing world's darling, but it has shed market share -- and perhaps more importantly, mind share.

The other single-digit heavyweights come from an eclectic cross-section of medical devices, semiconductors, and video games. And they don't just come from different sectors; the companies also have varying prospects. Analysts don't see Citigroup turning a profit until next year, yet they see Bank of America improving on its bottom-line this year (after an admittedly depressed 2008). Wall Street sees a sharp drop in profitability at Applied Materials in 2009, but reasonable growth at Boston Scientific.

We will have a little more color in these numbers after Time Warner reports its quarterly results tomorrow, with Activision to follow next week.

Don't judge a stock by its price tag
When I began singling out attractive stocks trading below $10 in 2001, it seemed speculative. These days, it's a mainstream endeavor. When you have at least these seven stocks commanding market caps greater than $10 billion apiece, the swimming pool has been invaded.

This is just one more reason why investors need to look beyond the share price. Multiply it by the number of shares outstanding to arrive at market capitalization. If you're up to the task, adjust for the company's cash and debt to arrive at the more accurate enterprise value metric. Isn't that the true worth of a company?

In the meantime, make way for a bigger pool if even more fading blue-chip megacaps start donning their trunks.

Tastier headlines than a $5 sandwich:

Dell is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Activision Blizzard is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Bank of America is a former Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders how many people know that Alexander Hamilton is the one on the ten-dollar bill. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.