"I like to go for cinches. I like to shoot fish in a barrel. But I like to do it after the water has run out."
-- Warren Buffett

History seems to show that good investing doesn't necessarily mean picking out complex situations and basing your investment thesis on Nobel-level math. In fact, as the current financial crisis has shown us -- not to mention the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund and many other examples -- too much complexity can often end in calamity.

In an effort to track down companies that may fall into that "fish in a barrel" category, I've turned to The Motley Fool's CAPS community. Using CAPS' stock screener, I looked for companies that have a price-to-earnings ratio below 15, a long-term debt-to-equity ratio below 50%, a return on equity above 12%, and have been highly rated by the CAPS community.


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Price-to-Earnings Ratio

Return on Equity

Long-Term Debt-to-Equity Ratio

McDermott (NYSE:MDR)





Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW)










Source: CAPS.

These are just three of the results that the CAPS screener spit out; you can run the same screen yourself to see the rest of the companies that made the cut. While the three companies above aren't meant to be formal recommendations, they are a good starting point for further research. On that note, let's take a closer look at each company.

Energy engineering
Energy has been a hot topic, and for good reason. Energy is the basis for just about everything in our day-to-day lives, from the food we eat to the cars we drive to the Guitar Hero that I totally rock out on. So it makes sense that investors would have a keen focus on nearly every aspect of the business of energy production.

When it comes to investment ideas, there are companies like ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) that focus on extracting energy inputs like oil, and there are those like Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) that actually produce and distribute electricity. Somewhere in the middle of this are the players like McDermott.

McDermott is a company of engineers that brings home the bacon by designing and building major energy infrastructure such as offshore oil well platforms and major utility power generation systems. The economy has taken a bit of a bite out of the company's recent results, but backlog -- particularly from the offshore oil and gas segment -- has held up, which bodes well for future results.

Staying offshore
Keeping within the energy patch, Atwood Oceanics is busy helping oil and gas exploration companies access their finds deep under water.

While many investors may be familiar with the much larger Transocean (NYSE:RIG), Atwood is doing the same thing -- only on a smaller scale. Customers such as Eni and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) hire Atwood and its fleet of impressively expensive offshore drilling equipment to drill into potential oil and gas fields that are sometimes thousands of feet under water. To be successful, Atwood not only has to please its customers, but it has to grow its fleet while at the same time keeping the number of idle days for its drill rigs to an absolute minimum.

And it would seem that the company has been pretty darn successful at balancing all of this. For the 18 years ending in 2008, the company grew its revenue from just more than $50 million to more than $600 million. And for the decade ended in 2008, Atwood saw its earnings per share almost sextuple.

And now for something completely different ...
Let's turn our attention to e-security expert VASCO Data.

If you're anything like me, you're constantly accessing personal information such as credit card data or bank account balances on your computer. For most of us, a username and password is enough security. But what about when you're a major banking institution like HSBC or ING? Well, those two -- not to mention about 7,998 other customers -- turn to VASCO, which supplies the data security equivalent of Fort Knox.

Last month, CAPS All-Star stan8331 was bullish on VASCO's stock and the good thing the company has going:

There are plenty of companies trying to make a fortune just from having the words "data" and "security" in their name, but Vasco seems to have a strong business model. Two-factor authentication is guaranteed to continue to rise in corporate usage for a good long time. Plenty of cash, no debt, and still over 50% off from its 52-week high.

Getting down to business
Now the CAPS community wants you. Do you think these stocks make sense? Or is the community off base in its faith in these companies? Head over to CAPS and join the 135,000 members already sharing their thoughts on thousands of stocks.

Further CAPS Foolishness:

Atwood Oceanics and VASCO Data Security International are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Duke Energy is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out the stocks that he is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS page or you can connect with him on Twitter as @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy thinks Matt has secretly been reading @mileycyrus on Twitter and not disclosing that sad fact.