If you're aiming to "buy low and sell high," then it makes infinite sense to start your search with bargain-priced stocks. Regularly reviewing a list of stocks trading near their 52-week lows can be a great first step.

Here, I'll try to do the initial legwork for you. So we won't be inundated with scores of disparate companies, I'll conduct my search by industry. This will allow us to make some initial comparisons among semi-related companies.

There are 24 industry groups as defined by the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). Materials is one of them.

When I looked at the list, a disproportionate number were steel plays. Here are the five largest by market cap that are hugging 52-week lows.


Market Capitalization (in millions)

% Change From 52-Week Low

P/E Ratio (trailing)

ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT) $52,695                          17.1                          10.9
POSCO (NYSE: PKX) $34,031                          14.3                          11.8
Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (NYSE: SID) $25,284                          16.6 12.6
Gerdau (NYSE: GGB) $18,467                          1.26                          12.2
Nucor (NYSE: NUE) $12,468                          10.6                          83.0

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data as of Oct. 18.

The steel industry is hurting because of overcapacity and a fragmented market lacking pricing power. Credit Suisse reports that the industry is running at 24% below full capacity in ArcelorMittal's key markets. And to put a number on how fragmented the market is, ArcelorMittal is the biggest player but only controls 8% of the market.

Want to hear some good news? Our Motley Fool CAPS community rates four of the five companies listed five stars out of five, meaning they rank in the top 20% of all stocks covered. And the fifth, Nucor, rates a still-bullish four stars.

Clearly, our community believes there's a contrarian opportunity in these 52-week lows. The trailing earnings multiples of the four five-star-rated stocks are all reasonable, but earnings are so dependent on the vagaries of commodity prices that this can frequently be misleading.

Using the price-to-book ratio, ArcelorMittal and POSCO look worthy of a second look. POSCO is trading just a bit above book value while ArcelorMittal has dipped under it.

Interested in reading more about these stocks? Check out our CAPS community today.

Anand Chokkavelu doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned. He posts his favorite articles on his Twitter feed. Nucor is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. The Fool has a disclosure policy.