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

Of all the Oracle of Omaha's orations, this one holds a special place in Foolish investors' hearts. When looking to bag a bargain, a panicked sell-off by jittery investors offers you a great chance to snap up stocks on the cheap.

In the short term, professional traders' pessimism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Desperate institutions lower their asking prices to get rid of a stock, prompting buyers' bid prices to fall in tandem, creating the very price decline that both sides feared in the first place -- until the selling stops.

Until it does, savvy investors can "get greedy," snapping up bargains from these fearful sellers. (Assuming they really are bargains.) In today's column, we'll see which stocks Wall Street's motivated sellers are most frantic to unload. Once we've compiled this shopping list of potential picks, we'll check them against the collective intelligence of Motley Fool CAPS.

Today's contenders include:


Recent Price

CAPS Rating
(out of 5 stars)

PriceSmart (NASDAQ:PSMT)






Sequenom  (NASDAQ:SQNM)






UAL Corporation  (NASDAQ:UAUA)



Companies are selected from the "Institutional Ownership Down Last Month" list published on MSN Money on the Saturday following close of trading last week. Recent price provided by Yahoo! Finance. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Up on Wall Street, the investment bankers are selling all these stocks just as quickly as they can. Down here on Main Street, though, Fools take a more nuanced view of the companies' chances. We're not at all convinced Netflix is a buy, for example (at least, not at this price), and we're downright bearish on UAL (as well we should be). In contrast, the CAPS community has high hopes that NVIDIA will rise from the dead.

Of course, what you really want to know is which of these stocks is the smartest bet, right? Well, the votes are in. Our 130,000 CAPS members have spoken, and they think the smartest choice for the price on offer is ... PriceSmart. Here's why.

The bull case for PriceSmart
We'll begin with a brief introduction to the company from fartorpedo73, writing last May: "The company operates an international membership warehouse clubs, similar to [Costco (NASDAQ:COST)] ... in Central America and the Caribbean. ... The company operates 25 warehouse clubs in 11 countries and one U.S. terrritory."

In March, JAVEROA added that this "incredible company with a successful business model" offers "[p]rices ... cheaper than [Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)] and the service is much better." But perhaps the most insightful comment on PriceSmart comes from newtex01, who mused last summer that "if Cuba ever opens their market this company will be one of the first to capitalize on that growth. Second, if Wal Mart needs more international growth they might be interested in buying PriceSmart."

Now, there are plenty of reasons to love PriceSmart as is -- the company sports minimal debt and a P/E ratio of just 10, and analysts expect it will keep on growing its profits at 15% per year over the next five years. Free cash flow, while not quite measuring up to the level of reported "net earnings," is plenty robust to support the company's 3.1% dividend yield. That said, it's newtex01's Cuba comment that strikes me as the most forward-thinking buy thesis on PriceSmart. Why?

We all know how President Obama has been speaking of a thaw in U.S. relations with Cuba. We've seen the stories of how corporate America is starting to back the idea as well. If anything does come of this, then PriceSmart's Caribbean empire is admirably placed to expand into the Cuban market once it opens up. With the stock already selling for a fair price, and paying a tidy, well-protected dividend, I think this story just might be worth waiting around for.

Foolish takeaway
Of course, the aim of this column isn't just to tell you what I think about PriceSmart -- or even what other CAPS players are saying. We really want to hear your thoughts. Click on over to Motley Fool CAPS and tell us what you think.

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

Costco Wholesale, Netflix, and NVIDIA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Costco and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares of Costco.

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. 427 out of more than 130,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.