"I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful."
-- Warren Buffett

Can't argue with that, can you? I don't need to remind you of how much fear is in the market these days. It's a real gut check, but that fear is creating opportunities for investors patient and diligent enough to search for the babies thrown out with the bathwater.

Using our Motley Fool CAPS ranking system's screening tool, I scanned for bargain companies with the following characteristics:

  • Five-star ratings -- the highest our CAPS community offers.
  • Estimates of profitability in 2009.
  • Terrible performance over the past 52 weeks. Yes, almost every stock meets this condition, but I'm looking for the bargain opportunities. Solid companies with great outlooks that are being valued like total losers.

Have a look:

Company

52-Week 
Price Change

Recent Price

Forward Earnings Estimates

3M (NYSE:MMM)

(20%)

$61.00

$3.88

Mosaic (NYSE:MOS)

(64%)

$55.48

$5.26

Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM)

(16%)

$43.52

$3.08

Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU)

(30%)

$24.25

$0.65

UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH)

(21%)

$24.21

$3.07

Data from Motley Fool CAPS and Yahoo! Finance, as of June 15, 2009.

None of these are necessarily recommendations -- just good starting points for you to dig a little deeper. You can rerun an update of this screen yourself, if you like.

In a recent interview with the Motley Fool, PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian defined a "new normal" economy investors need to adjust to. In short, it isn't wise to count on the same forces that led the economy in previous years -- or decades. We live in a new world of less leverage, less American consumerism, and more frugality.

Part of this adjustment, according to El-Erian, includes investing based on a few select tactics, including diversification outside the United States and a keen eye toward the threat of inflation.

There are several ways you can achieve this, but one individual stock I think fits the broad outline of El-Erian's point is Philip Morris International. Why?

  • It's exclusively international (hence the name, duh). This is the foreign spin-off of Altria Group (NYSE:MO). Altria divested Philip Morris International in 2008 to let it roam the world free from the legal constraints and social disgust Philip Morris USA and competitor Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) face. This pure international exposure provides one of the best dollar hedges you could ask for. You can almost think of it as an American company with exclusive international sales.
  • Let's face it: cigarettes are addictive. Leaving the moral aspect aside, this allows the company to raise prices in the face of inflation -- even severe inflation. When people want their Marlboros, they'll get their Marlboros.

As CAPS member LondonMatt writes, "Costs pennies to make, with lots of repeat customers. If you can stomach the ethics, you can pocket the dividend." There's actually quite a bit of logic in that statement. Moral reservations surrounding the tobacco industry keep plenty of investors away. Fewer investors means less attention, less attention means a lower share price, and a lower share price -- all else equal -- means higher dividend yields. Indeed, Philip Morris International sports a 5% dividend, which is about as good as it gets from a company this stable.

Your turn to chime in
Have your own take on Philip Morris International? More than 135,000 investors use CAPS to share ideas and swap opinions. Click here to check it out and speak your mind. It's 100% free to participate.

For further Foolishness:

Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Philip Morris International and Altria Group. Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. 3M and UnitedHealth are Inside Value recommendations, and UnitedHealth is also a Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of UnitedHealth and has a disclosure policy.