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. To prevent us from being 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. Food and staples retailing is one of them. These companies sell or deliver the basic stuff on your shopping list. Here are the largest by market cap that are hugging 52-week lows.

Company

Market Capitalization (in millions)

% Change From 52-Week Low

P/E Ratio (trailing)

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT)

$195,501

12.5

13.6

CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS)

$42,375

16.4

12.0

Costco (Nasdaq: COST)

$27,328

18.3

21.8

SYSCO (NYSE: SYY)

$17,161

12.6

14.7

Kroger (NYSE: KR)

$14,151

16.3

NM

Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao

$9,610

18.2

30.0

Safeway (NYSE: SWY)

$8,366

 19.8

NM

Delhaize Group

$7,021

10.1

9.96

Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD)

$802

4.67

NM

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

When I ran this screen, I would have expected more companies like Rite Aid, which has been fighting for survival. But its competitor CVS Caremark is also near its yearly lows.

Something to note in this space is that share prices aren't especially volatile. Many of these companies are not only within 20% of their 52-week lows, but they're also within 20% of their 52-week highs. Wal-Mart and Costco are good examples of this. This can be viewed as boring or it can be comforting depending on what you're looking for. Shareholders in Wal-Mart were some of the few who were able to sleep well at night during the financial crisis. Its shares barely felt the crisis as shoppers traded down to its always low prices.

Interested in reading more about these stocks? Add them to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.

Anand Chokkavelu doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned. He posts his favorite articles on his Twitter feed.

Costco, SYSCO, and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Costco is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. SYSCO is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Costco, SYSCO, and Wal-Mart.

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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.