2009 has been a year with dramatic reversals of fortune. But there are still some good investments worth putting on your list for Santa this year.

The stock market dropped to levels not seen in more than a decade in March, but then roared back to life, rising more than 60% from those lows. Unfortunately, that means that those who waited until the last minute to shop for stocks aren't finding bargains as plentiful as they once were. For the year, Ford (NYSE:F) has nearly quadrupled in value, and many other "garbage" stocks have done similarly well.

But even when lots of stocks look overpriced, you can still find attractive ones. You just need a plan -- or more specifically, a list.

Make a list!
Crafting a wish list of stocks you've always wanted to own but found too expensive to buy is a good way to focus your thinking. I've found it helpful lately, because as the stock market moves ever higher, we all have to be more selective in deploying our cash. As Warren Buffett once noted, "The ability to say 'No' is a tremendous advantage to an investor." Yet even the Oracle of Omaha found bargains in the market this year, and was even able to bag his long-awaited elephant.

It's not necessary to look amongst the small caps, micro caps, or penny stocks for cheap stocks. Even some of the top stocks in the Dow Industrials retain attractive valuations and could be good opportunities for those with cash to invest:


Change (YTD)

5-Year EPS Growth Est.

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)









Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)






McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)



General Electric



Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT)









Source: Yahoo! Finance. As of Dec. 11. YTD = year to date. EPS = earnings per share.

Coming up with a wish list is useful as a starting point for further research. The next step is prioritizing the list to focus on your best ideas. If you like too many stocks, you can suffer from paralysis of action. Instead, look through the list of stocks you'd like to see under your tree this year, and then dig in to find the ones that shine the brightest.

Who's naughty or nice?
Remember that stock price movements are always relative. For instance, shares of Whole Foods Market have almost tripled this year. But they're trading for barely half what they brought two years ago. So you might reasonably conclude that the shares still offer good value.

Similarly, Boeing (NYSE:BA) is another stock that's still heavily discounted despite nearly doubling from its low point earlier this year. You can buy shares for just over half what you'd have paid back in 2007. You might even think of it almost like a buy-one-get-one-free sale on Boeing. And if its Dreamliner actually does take flight this week as they say is possible, it might not be just its planes that are flying high.

Keep in mind that not every cheap stock is a bargain and not every stock that has soared doesn't still have more room to run. Some thought Buffett moved too early when he purchased Goldman Sachs at what looked like steep premiums last year, but as is often the case when it comes to the Oracle, it's not the short-term results that matter. Today, his moves look downright prescient.

A gift-wrapped opportunity
The Dow stock I like best today is Wal-Mart, and not just because I already own it. It stands to profit no matter which way the economy turns. A double-dip recession, which some economists think is likely to happen, will mean that consumers will continue to shop its discount aisles, while few will soon abandon their frugal ways even if the economy continues its slow improvement.

But there are plenty of good ideas to put on your wish list. Even with this year's rally, buying blue chips at reasonable prices shows that even now is a wonderful time to be a value investor.

Don't fall into value traps. Chuck Saletta has found a worthless stock you shouldn't touch.

Whole Foods is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Pfizer and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble, which is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Wal-Mart but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.