"'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 135,000 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)

Foster Wheeler  (NASDAQ:FWLT)




Hecla Mining  (NYSE:HL)




Force Protection  (NASDAQ:FRPT)




MGM Mirage  (NYSE:MGM)




Wynn Resorts  (NASDAQ:WYNN)




Companies are selected by screening on finviz.com for abrupt 10% or greater price drops over the past week. 52-week high and recent price data provided by finviz.com. CAPS ratings from Motley Fool CAPS.

Five super falls -- one superball
Last week was a tough one for gamblers of all stripes. Disappointing numbers out of Macau sent shares sliding at MGM and Wynn, and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) came tumbling after. Gold bugs suffered similarly, with Newmont Mining and Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) both dropping steeply on Tuesday; Hecla came along for company, despite making a sizeable debt payment. And anyone gambling on Force Protection winning its latest defense contract opportunity got badly burned when Force first lost the contract ... then suffered the ignominy of multiple analyst downgrades.

But while most of last week's losses are explainable, one company's fall remains a mystery: Foster Wheeler. On no news of note, the stock tumbled 10% from its high early Monday through Thursday's close ...

... which leads this Fool to wonder: Is there good reason for Foster's freefall, or has Mr. Market just handed us a Buying opportunity with a capital "B"? Let's find out.

The bull case for Foster Wheeler
CAPS member dtkhc likes Foster Wheeler's "[h]igh cash reserves, low debt. High presence in Asia. High technical expertise ... Beginning joint ventures in co-owning power-producing facilities and is continually looking to make acquisitions that will help increase their technical advantage."

CAPS All-Star MattMcComb agrees, calling Foster Wheeler a "great engineering firm with a much stronger balance sheet than most of its competitors, such as Chicago Bridge & Iron. Doesn't pay a dividend, but in this market I'm OK with companies conserving cash."

Last but not least, fellow All-Star dwlivesay praises Foster Wheeler's CEO as "a guy who has both short term patience and long term vision."

Would that investors had similar vision last week -- then they might have noticed that they were selling off a superb stock.

Selling for just a 6.6 P/E, Foster Wheeler looks like a real deal, given analyst expectations of nearly 10% annualized five-year growth. The company's free cash flow may not measure up entirely to the income picture -- but with more than $250 million in free cash generated over the last 12 months, that number's none too shabby either. That puts the enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio at a hair under nine. Of course, that calculates in Foster Wheeler's perch atop nearly $570 million in net cash.

Time to chime in
To me, Fools, that makes Foster Wheeler an out-and-out bargain. Cheap stock, rock-solid balance sheet, combined with similarly solid growth prospects -- what more could you ask for?

Seriously. That's not a rhetorical question: What more could you ask for? If you've got doubts about Foster Wheeler's buy-ability (or for that matter, if you'd just like to echo what other Fools are saying), we'd love to hear 'em. Click on over to Motley Fool CAPS, and tell us what you think.

Motley Fool CAPS : It's fun, it's free, and it just might make you famous.

Chicago Bridge & Iron is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Force Protection, but does not own shares of any other company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 818 out of more than 135,000 members. The Fool has a disclosure policy.