" 'Don't catch a falling knife' ... The idea of buying a former superstar stock at a discount price certainly has its attractions, but you've got to make sure you catch the haft -- not the blade."

So runs the thesis of my recurring Fool column "Get Ready for the Bounce," in which we search among the wreckage of Mr. Market's overturned cutlery drawer, hoping to find future winners in a pile of 52-week losers. But do we really need to sit around for a whole year, waiting for a potential bouncer?

I say nay. Sometimes, stocks fall far in far less time than a year -- and like a superball dropped from the balcony, the harder they fall, the higher they bounce. Today, we're going to look at a few equities that've suffered dramatic drops over the past week. With a little help from the 160,000 members of Motley Fool CAPS, we hope to find an opportunity or two for you:


How Far From 52-Week High?

Recent Price

CAPS Rating

(out of 5)

Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM)




Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC)




JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM)




Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS)




Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS)




Companies are selected by screening on finviz.com for prices dropping 5% or more during the past week, compared to the previous week's closing price. 52-week high, recent price data, and CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Another week, another loss
There's no two ways about it: Last week was a miserable one to be invested in stocks, as the S&P 500 racked up another 4.2 percentage points worth of losses.

Why did it happen? The reasons vary, but as you can see from the names above, the big factor driving prices down seems to be a trend toward avoiding risk. Major bankers Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan all tumbled on fears of their exposure to the sovereign debt fiasco taking shape in Europe. The general disdain for debt seems to have also touched heavy debtor Las Vegas Sands, despite news that hedge fund Paulson & Co. (yes, that John Paulson) has been adding to his investments in rival gaming houses Boyd Gaming and MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM).

And yet, is it really all bad news? I mean, sure, seeing another $400 billion worth of market cap (give or take)  vaporized may not seem like cause for rejoicing if you're already broadly invested. But on the other hand, it did put a lot of stocks on sale for new investors. And if you ask the CAPS community, there's at least one company out there that's poised to bounce back strongly:

Philip Morris International
Here in America, Altria (NYSE: MO) seems perpetually smothered in a thick cloud of litigation risk. But outside U.S. borders, the smog clears away to reveal a healthier prognosis for the company's spun-off international operations. Says CAPS member weslindsey: "Cigarettes - Asia and Europe can't get enough. Thank you for smoking."

It's a bull thesis so obvious that it has become a cliche. CAPS member bduratti sums it up in six words: "addictive product, crazy cash flow machine."

And justinjohngalt in four: "growth. profits. buybacks. eps [earnings per share]."

Smoking hot profits
I agree. Over the past 12 turbulent market months, Philip Morris actually accelerated its production of cash, generating in excess of $7.7 billion in free cash flow (far ahead of the $6.6 billion it reported as profits earned under GAAP accounting standards.) Relative to the company's $82 billion market cap, this prices Philip Morris' stock at a mouthwateringly low 10.6 multiple. (Not bad for a projected 9.2% long-term grower.)

And the story only gets better from there. With only $4.3 billion of that cash earmarked for dividends over the coming year, assuming the payout stays steady, Philip Morris should have little difficulty maintaining its fat 5.2% dividend yield. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to see the company increase its payout, the way profits are growing.

Foolish takeaway
Whatever you think about the evils of Big Tobacco, it's hard to resist the attraction of the Big Profits that this stock promises. In keeping with the CAPS members profiled above, I'll wrap up today's bull thesis with a few staccato phrases of my own:

Growth. Free cash flow. Monster dividend. Addictive product. Philip Morris has got 'em all -- and I'll bet cash money that this stock will smoke the market.

Or not. I'll readily admit that the above is only my opinion. Other Fools may feel free to disagree -- about the company's superior value proposition, the morality of investing in Big Tobacco, or even the strategy of investing internationally, hoping for a collapse in the value of the U.S. dollar. If you've got thoughts on any of the above matters, feel free to voice them right now.

Click over to Motley Fool CAPS now and tell me why I'm wrong.

Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation, but Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find Rich on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he was recently ranked No. 451 out of more than 160,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.