I knew this would happen.

Yes, things were starting to look a little better in late December as bargain-hunters stepped into the stock market, but I knew it wouldn't last. The S&P 500 started slipping back down shortly after the first of the year, and as I write this on Friday morning, it's back in territory it hasn't seen since the scariest moments of the November plunge.

Just as I guessed.

Pretty smart of me, eh? But I think I'll hold off on trying to get myself booked on CNBC as yet another one of those "told ya so" pseudo-experts for a bit. It didn't take much in the way of profound insight to see that another round of selling was likely to set in. If nothing else, the wave of optimism surrounding President Obama was sure to hit the cold reality of dismal earnings and economic numbers before winter turned to spring, and that seemed likely to drive markets right back down.

And so it has. Ouch.

Will it get even worse?
There are an awful lot of uncertainties, even in the near term. How much longer will Bank of America, Citibank, Chrysler, and General Motors twist in the wind before some sort of receivership or bankruptcy proceeding becomes inevitable? How would such actions play out? Will the new stimulus actually stimulate, or will the effects be too little too late?

And this housing plan -- not to mention people's expectations around it -- aren't helping. Subsidizing houses people could never afford in the first place? Trying to push home prices back up to bubble territory so that the paper wealth that people thought they had in 2006 magically reappears and can be realized? Imagine if, back in 2002 or thereabouts, some congressperson had proposed a bill designed to pump the prices of tech stocks back up to 1999 levels. "The Internet Entrepreneurial Recovery Act" or some such.

Think that congressperson might have gotten a new title in the next election? One starting with the word "Former"?

But I digress. It clearly doesn't look likely to get better any time soon. Even if the market bounces from here and gets a rally going, it may well go right back down again in a month or two. If it doesn't bounce, where does the S&P 500 hit bottom -- 600 … 500?

And more to the point, is there an investment strategy -- other than buying gold, ammo, and canned goods -- that makes sense right now?

One thing to do now
I think there is. I still like the idea of looking for worthwhile value stocks and accumulating them through these market drops. If the value case is sufficiently strong, you can effectively take the market's short-term gyrations out of the equation and buy as you go.

Along those lines, I head over to Motley Fool CAPS to play with the stock screener every now and then, and I look for interesting value ideas. I ran some screens this morning for the first time in a few weeks. Here are some of the names that popped up:


CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)


Long-Term Debt/Equity

Return on Equity

Cal-Maine Foods (NASDAQ:CALM)










General Dynamics (NYSE:GD)





Logitech (NASDAQ:LOGI)




















Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

These aren't formal recommendations, of course -- just some of the names that looked intriguing at first glance. If you really like the ammo-and-canned-goods theme, Olin might be one way to play it, since Olin owns the Winchester ammunition company. Some CAPS players, however, seem to think that division is a spinoff candidate.

But it's egg giant Cal-Maine that I'll be taking a closer look at soon. Egg prices seem to have stabilized after a wild ride last year, and demand for eggs seems unlikely to fall during a recession. It might even go up if people are doing more cooking at home, as some are predicting. Such a trend would bode well for the company's 6%-plus dividend yield.

As always, though, you and I both should do further research before buying any of these companies. If you don't have the time or inclination to do that research yourself, but you'd like some carefully vetted value ideas to buy today, I invite you to give our Inside Value newsletter service a try. You can see the team's best ideas for new money in just a few seconds with a 30-day free trial.