Let's face it: Searching for top stocks is an arduous and time-consuming task. It's made even more difficult on days like today, when just about anything is liable to blow up in your face.

Yet as markets around the world continue to flirt with new lows, a lot of good companies have gotten cheap. Even better, a handful of good companies have gotten really cheap.

We're after that latter group at Motley Fool Global Gains, where we scour the world for the best companies at the best prices -- and occasionally find one. And while we can't reveal our top picks, we can make the whole due diligence process a bit easier on you. Today, I'll give you three ideas we're actively researching at Global Gains, one or more of which may make the cut in the near future.

Have pen and paper ready
First up is a Japanese company with an extremely well-respected brand and a reputation for quality. In fact, its products are so well-made that devoted customers put up websites in their honor. The company is also sitting on net cash of more than $700 million, benefits from an efficient global distribution system, and is selling at a valuation not seen in more than a decade.

Company No. 2 is an integrated bank that does retail banking, commercial lending, insurance, investment banking, and pension-fund management. But before you run away screaming, know that this name dominates its niche, and that its loan portfolio has no exposure to the kinds of subprime loans and derivative securities that have taken down former titans such as Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Even better, the bank has 38% market share and limited competition, a management team that's been in place for decades, and earnings that have grown more than 40% annually over the past five years, even while the bank maintained conservative capital ratios.

While those two stocks are cheap, stock No. 3 may be the cheapest of them all. Of course, its low, low price comes with a heightened risk profile, so be extra careful here. See, stock No. 3 is a diamond miner and retailer. Given that diamond demand and rough diamond prices have both plummeted over the past six months, it's a bad time to be either one of those things -- let alone both! Yet this company has a strategic alliance with Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP), a distribution agreement with Tiffany (NYSE:TIF), and is selling for less than two times its cash from operations. There are some debt concerns on the books, but even if the company has to dilute its ownership share of its diamond mine to pay those off, it still looks like a bargain.

Who's who
For those of you who have been playing along, Company No. 1 is Makita, a maker of high-quality power tools. Makita has an exclusive deal with Home Depot (NYSE:HD) here in the United States, but it has also penetrated markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Given the focus on global development spending, Makita could suddenly see its customer base get flush with cash; however, the stock is being priced for no growth going forward.

Company No. 2 is Credicorp (NYSE:BAP), the bank of choice in Peru. Though the Peruvian economy may slow this year alongside falling metals prices, this is the country's dominant financial institution. It continues to see solid loan growth, and again, it largely steered clear of subprime loans and derivatives.

And Company No. 3 is tiny Harry Winston Diamond (NYSE:HWD), one of the preeminent names in the diamond industry. Though the retail side of this business continues to struggle, this company owns 40% of whatever comes out of the Diavik Diamond Mine -- one of the world's most productive -- and that, dear Fools, is worth something.

If you'd like to learn more about these companies or read about our top picks at Motley Fool Global Gains, click here to join our stock-picking service free for a month. And good luck finding the cheap stocks that we know are out in the market today.

Tim Hanson is co-advisor of Global Gains. He does not own shares of any company mentioned. Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Bank of America is a former Income Investor pick. The Fool's disclosure policy may also pique your interest.