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Everyone loves a bargain, right? Buying solid companies at beaten-up prices is always an approach worth considering, and now seems like a particularly good time to try it. Some of the hottest fashions are currently on sale, from mocha lattes to housing to, um, cement.

More on cement in a second, but first, check out the one-year drops below:


One-year Price Change

P/E Ratio

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO)



Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX)



Lennar (NYSE: LEN)



Citibank (NYSE: C)



Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)



Panera (Nasdaq: PNRA)



Cemex (NYSE: CX)



S&P 500



Returns are from Google Finance. P/Es are from Yahoo! Finance.

Granted, as Apple's gravity-defying performance suggests, not everything related to the American consumer is on the clearance rack. And contrary to intuition, the S&P 500 is only down 2% over the last year. But the companies on sale are really on sale.

The beauty of a broad sale across sectors is that you don't have to settle for a company whose earnings are a little too snug, or whose management chafes you. You can buy a premier global company with strong earnings, capable management, economies of scale, barriers to entry, and a believable growth plan. And you can still buy it at a single-digit P/E ratio (barely).

The catch? Despite its Brangelina name (cement + Mexico = Cemex), it's just not very sexy -- until you really think about it. With operations in more than 50 countries, Cemex cement is literally the foundation of all this global growth we Fools gush about. Since houses, cities, and infrastructure all need cement, it's very likely that the next economic superpower will be built by the third-largest cement/concrete producer in the world -- Cemex.

Of course, you may have noticed that Lennar, Starbucks, and Citibank are all down in the neighborhood of 50%, versus Cemex's more modest 20% drop. However, those companies are down for reasons more specific than just a general economic downturn. Unlike all the other discounted companies in the chart above, Cemex has an insurance policy against the slumping U.S. economy. Although a recent acquisition increased the company's proportion of domestic sales, only one-fourth of Cemex's latest quarterly sales came from the U.S. The remainder still originate from the rest of the world, allowing Cemex to lean on the dozens of other countries in which it operates to sustain its earnings until our economy returns to health.  

Bringing it back
Speaking of earnings, Cemex has gobs of them to support the company's rock-bottom P/E ratio. Growth in the short term may indeed be stunted, but over the long term, Cemex is a proven grower, with 25% average revenue growth over the two decades leading up to the last fiscal year. Yet it's currently priced like a company that keeps its cash under a mattress.

Cemex won't see another 20 years of 25% annual growth, but the past has shown us that it will keep growing revenue and earnings both organically and through savvy acquisitions. Those newly absorbed companies swiftly get indoctrinated in "the Cemex way," usually leading to improved efficiency and productivity.

Cemex is a downturn-resistant, globally diversified proven grower, but it's priced like a laggard. I'd say further Foolish research is warranted. Given the sale the market's throwing, why not start now? See how your fellow Fools rate Cemex at our free Motley Fool CAPS website. Or better yet, do your own research and rate it yourself! Your "outperform" rating could help crown Cemex the best international stock of the year.