Brunswick's (NYSE:BC) stock hit a 52-week low yesterday and continues to trade lower today after an earnings warning. Now that it trades for a reduced multiple of earnings, should value investors start circling the wagons?

Brunswick is a bit of an eclectic firm, with business units consisting of the namesake bowling operations, as well as fitness equipment and billiard segments. Its largest unit operates in the marine industry, as Brunswick is the nation's largest seller of boats and marine engines. Marine weakness was the main culprit behind yesterday's warning and will continue to drive results as it accounts for over 80% of sales.

Management reduced guidance to a range of $2.40-$2.55, nearly 20% below what analysts were expecting and over 20% below 2005 earnings. The guidance represents a forward P/E multiple of about 12. That sounds low, but looks can be deceiving.

The warning shook up the entire boating industry, as Brunswick's boats make up over half of boating retailer MarineMax's (NYSE:HZO) sales. Fellow boating manufacturer Marine Products (NYSE:MPX) also took a hit to the hull.

As I've mentioned for other cyclical firms, such as Cascade (NYSE:CAE) and its load-handling products for forklifts, a low P/E can be deceiving for these types of companies. During the peak of an expansionary period in the economy, earnings can be very high, pushing the denominator in a P/E up and the subsequent multiple down. It's a bit counterintuitive, but with a cyclical, it's best to hold off buying while the P/E is low and start to back up the truck when the P/E is high.

Brunswick will likely be hurt during the next economic downturn, as the boating businesses qualify as leisure products and consumer confidence plays a major part in the related sales. Fortunately, international sales make up about 35% of total sales and could provide some support in the case of a domestic downturn.

Overall, Brunswick has a solid track record of growth, as sales have expanded almost 10% per year over the past five years, while earnings have grown about 11% over this time frame. Operating cash flow has exceeded net income by a fair amount, although free cash flow has been negligible because of high levels of capex and acquisitions of other marine-related companies.

I'm on the fence on this one. The low multiple does look tempting, but the boat segment has been doing quite well over the past two years and can reasonably be expected to slow from here on out. Brunswick's operations are also capital intensive for the most part, which lowers annual free cash flow. It's a close call, but Fools may be able to pick up the shares at a lower level, even after yesterday's 7% haircut on the price. Plus overall market weakness means there could be a number of other beaten-down stocks, as alluded to by fellow Fool Nate Parmelee, who discusses whether we are currently in the throes of a bear market.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further.