Since today is Columbus Day, and we're celebrating the explorer's 1492 arrival on our shores, let's do a little exploring of our own.

Several quality stocks have been hammered by the market in recent weeks, so let me single out some of my favorites that have fallen below $14.92 a share in price.

Heading into rougher seas than the Santa Maria
The ground rules are simple. I'm picking out five stocks that are starting off this new trading week at less than $14.92, but were trading well above that mark earlier this year. Columbus may have sailed west, but these stocks have clearly been heading south.

I'm also not picking out just random stocks. These are companies that I believe will serve explorers -- um, I mean, investors -- well over the long haul.

Then again, aren't investors really budding explorers? There's a little bit of Christopher Columbus in all of us as we venture into the market's uncharted waters.

 

10/11/08

52-Week High

Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO)

$12.84

$27.95

Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO)

$12.29

$34.08

Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM)

$14.12

$41.45

Home Inns (NASDAQ:HMIN)

$10.64

$50.08

California Pizza Kitchen (NASDAQ:CPKI)

$10.52

$18.58

Take-Two has fallen a long way since its shareholders batted away Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:ERTS) advances at roughly twice today's price. EA wanted to get its hands on Take-Two's smash Grand Theft Auto franchise and its thorn-twisting sporting titles.

Today's bargain-hunting explorers can get an even sweeter deal. With Take-Two projected to earn $1.45 a share next year, investors can pick up one of the more dynamic video game publishers at a single-digit forward earnings multiple.

Yahoo! trades at a much steeper multiple, but a good chunk of Yahoo!'s share price is backed by the company's balance-sheet greenery and its valuable stakes in cyberspace market leaders in China, Japan, and South Korea.

Yahoo! isn't perfect. It's hitting growth hiccups and relinquishing market share. However, it is also consistently profitable and remains an even more attractive buyout target today than it was before reality humbled it down into the pre-teens.

Akamai is another stock with a much brighter future than its share price. It remains the market leader in content delivery networks, speeding up the secure delivery of Web pages and digital downloads in a world where chunky entertainment and chunkier crowds are migrating to the Web.

Home Inns is a natural, given my bullish perspective on China. The fast-growing chain of value-priced hotels is the perfect vehicle to play the percolating disposable incomes in a country with 1.3 billion people. Home Inns is sacrificing near-term profitability for the sake of heady expansion, and it's the right approach.

California Pizza Kitchen is holding up better than most of its casual-dining peers. Consumers aren't eating out as much as they used to, and when they do, they’re trading down to fast-food chains. However, I'm a fan of quality comfort-food specialists with a hip West Coast bent, like California Pizza Kitchen and Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE). When consumers return to the table-service eateries, these are the ones they will hit.  

So many fish out in the sea
Naturally, you don't need Columbus Day to remind you that plenty of low-lying fruits are there for the plucking. The market has taken a roughly 40% dive since last year's Columbus Day, so the bargains are everywhere.

So don your explorer duds, grab a compass, and take the Santa Maria, Pinta, or Nina for a spin. If I missed your favorite bargains under $14.92, post them below in the comment box to share with your fellow readers.

There is so much to explore aboard the S.S. Wall Street, where every day is a port of call through uncharted waters.

Take-Two Interactive Software and Akamai Technologies are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. Electronic Arts is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that historians will have to agree to disagree on the role Columbus played in bumping up against America. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, save for Cheesecake Factory. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.