"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 what Long Term Capital Management and many other examples have shown -- too much complexity can often end in calamity.

In an effort to track down some of the 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 a high rating in the CAPS community.


CAPS Rating (Out of 5)

Price-to-Earnings Ratio

Return on Equity

Long-Term Debt-to-Equity Ratio

Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE:CBI)





General Dynamics (NYSE:GD)





Noble (NYSE:NE)





Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

These are just three of the results that the CAPS screener spit out, but you can run the same screen yourself to see other companies that made the cut. (Note that the screen updates as markets change.) Although the three companies above aren't meant to be formal recommendations, they are a good starting point to start some further research. And on that note, let's take a closer look at each company.

Building the bridges to hydrocarbon products
Chicago Bridge & Iron isn't really about bridges, but that's a good thing. Its expertise in engineering, procurement, and construction in the oil and gas industry opens the company up to a much wider potential market.

CB&I works with major oil and gas companies such as Exxon (NYSE:XOM), Valero (NYSE:VLO), and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) across a spectrum of projects, including liquefied natural gas processing, refineries, and storage tanks. In 2008, the company reported having worked on around 600 projects in 70 countries.

But we all know that the environment for the oil and gas industry isn't nearly the same today as it was a year ago. Not only have the prices for both oil and gas fallen significantly, but financing for big projects of all types is harder to come by. And this change hasn't missed CB&I -- the tougher environment led to a 43% year-over-year drop in the company's backlog.

CAPS members, though, see bright times for CB&I when the recession does start to turn, particularly through its strong foothold abroad.

Defending profits
When the only reliable spender in the economy is the government, it's good to have the government as your largest customer. It shouldn't be too surprising, then, that the recent financial results of major defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Raytheon have defied the economic downturn.

General Dynamics' combat systems -- both on the ground and in the sea -- posted the biggest revenue gains for the quarter, but as fellow Fool Rich Smith pointed out, the stable performance of the company's aerospace segment helped investors smile.

As for the future, well, the company's backlog finished the second quarter 22% higher than last year and it raised its profit-per-share outlook for 2009. Investors can now pick up shares of General Dynamics for just less than 9 times its expected 2009 earnings per share.

Wait ... isn't oil down?
The price of oil is way down from last year, but the day rates that Noble charges for some of its rigs have gone in the opposite direction. Despite the drop in oil prices, Noble reported a 7% increase in second-quarter earnings per share versus last year.

Three of Noble's deepwater drilling units raised their day rates from previous contracts. Among the three was the Noble Muravlenko, which entered into a six-year contract with Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) at a day rate 142% higher than its previous contract.

CAPS members have a high opinion of Noble -- of the 1,952 members that have weighed in on the stock 1,930 have rated it an outperformer. Among those Noble bulls is Gmoney91, who gave the stock a thumbs-up back in July and wrote, in part:

Noble Corp has recently had a significant pullback, but is poised to reap major gains in the medium to long run. The company, along with its competitors, has very nice margins in an industry that will only see increased demand driven by the global desire for more energy. ... The company has actually grown its earnings very nicely throughout the entire market downturn and has beat earnings estimates about half the time.

Getting down to business
Now the CAPS community wants you. That's right. 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-plus members who are already sharing their thoughts on thousands of stocks.

Don't stop here! Be sure to check out:

General Dynamics is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Petroleo Brasileiro is an Income Investor selection. Chicago Bridge & Iron is a Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out the stocks that he's keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS page, or you can connect with him on Twitter as @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is chillaxin', because it's too busy to chill and relax separately.