"I like to go for cinches. I like to shoot fish in a barrel. But I like to do it after the water has run out."
-- Warren Buffett

History seems to show that good investing doesn't necessarily mean picking out complex situations and basing your investment thesis on Nobel-level math. In fact, as the current financial crisis has shown us, too much complexity can often end in calamity.

In an effort to track down companies that may fall into that "fish in a barrel" category, I've turned to the Motley Fool CAPS community. Using CAPS' stock screener, I looked for companies that have a price-to-earnings ratio below 15, a long-term debt-to-equity ratio below 50%, a return on equity above 10%, and a high rating from the CAPS community.


CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Price-to-Earnings Ratio

Return on Equity

Long-Term Debt-to-Equity Ratio

Sasol (NYSE:SSL)





Raytheon (NYSE:RTN)





American Oriental Bioengineering (NYSE:AOB)





Source: CAPS.

These are just three of the results that the CAPS screener spit out; you can run the same screen yourself to see the rest. While the three companies above aren't meant to be formal recommendations, they are a good starting point for further research. And on that note, let's take a closer look.

Forward-looking fuel
The obvious downside to Sasol's business lately is that the market for oil and gas hasn't been kind to producers, including competitors ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX). For the fiscal year ended June 30, it announced a 39% decline in earnings versus the previous year.

Though Sasol's earnings decline was worse than those at Exxon and Chevron, the company makes up for it with a forward-thinking twist on its fuel production. Specifically, Sasol is able to cook up profits by turning gas into oil and coal into both gas and oil.

How do they do it? If I could give a detailed answer I'd likely be a chemist in a lab, not writing about investments. The important thing, though, is that the company is able to do it. Transforming coal could mean big opportunities in places like China and the U.S., where coal is abundant. The company is already taking advantage of opportunities outside of its South African homeland for its gas-to-liquids process.

With a solid business under it now, big opportunities ahead, and a 4.5% dividend payout to boot, Sasol's stock certainly seems to make sense.

Next-generation warfare
The business of providing the U.S. fighting force with weapons has generally been good for Raytheon, but like other major defense companies such as Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), it also has to deal with the constantly changing nature of worldwide combat.

Raytheon may be best known for its missiles (it produces the Tomahawk, for instance), but the company gets nearly 80% of its revenue outside of its missile segment. The company also makes integrated systems for general defense, intelligence, and airborne systems.

A recent contract for high-precision missiles -- which reduce the potential for civilian casualties in urban targets -- and the development of advanced computers for dismounted soldiers suggest that Raytheon is right there on the cutting edge of military technology.

Though competition in the segment stays tough and the government budget is always a fickle beast, there's good reason to believe that Raytheon will continue to score big contracts for its advanced weaponry. And with a price-to-earnings ratio currently under 11, investors just may be getting a steal on the company's stock.

Will CAPS prove me wrong?
Despite a rapidly growing market that was worth an estimated $27.7 billion in 2005, there is no Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) of China. The growth, size, and fragmented nature of the Chinese market, provides plenty of opportunity for burgeoning Chinese pharmaceuticals like American Oriental Bioengineering.

But while the opportunity may be significant, I've been wary of many of the risks that fellow Fool Brian Orelli outlined back in August. Of course, I'm very much in the minority in steering clear of AOB; the stock has more than 3,000 outperform calls on CAPS, against just 81 underperforms.

Just recently, CAPS All-Star mrindependent joined the bullish chorus:

According to Jubak, the Chinese government is making a substantial push to expand the country's health care sector. American Oriental Biology ought to benefit from this initiative. The price is right at 1.04 times book value and 6 times estimated earnings in 2010 (i.e. $0.77 per share). The balance sheet is good and historical sales growth is phenomenal.

This CAPS member could well be right, but, personally, I'm staying out.

Getting down to business
Now the CAPS community wants you. Do you think these stocks make sense? Or is the community off base in its faith? Head over to CAPS and join the 140,000 members already sharing their thoughts on thousands of stocks.

Further CAPS Foolishness:

American Oriental Bioengineering is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. General Dynamics is an Inside Value pick. Johnson & Johnson and Sasol are Income Investor recommendations. American Oriental and Sasol are Global Gains picks. 

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. You can check out the stocks that he is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS page, or you can connect with him on Twitter as @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is chillaxin' because it's too busy to chill and relax separately.