A ballpoint pen or a share of stock?

AP writer Mark Williams has a telling breakdown on the stock values of some major companies. I'll give you the highlights with up-to-the-minute prices: Office Depot's stock is down from $38 to $1.11. A package of ballpoint pens goes for $1.89.

Citigroup shares are going for $2.86, about the cost of one ATM transaction.

Hovnanian, one of the country's biggest homebuilders, is going for 88 cents. I don't think you can copy a set a keys for that.

GM's share price is lower than the cost of a spark plug. You can buy New York Times stock for less than the cost of the Sunday edition. GE shares aren't even worth the price of a toaster.

The AP story sums it up:

The bargain-basement stock prices of America's best known companies present either the greatest opportunity of a lifetime - or the biggest money pit this side of the Great Depression.

The money pit being a company that winds up going under -- i.e. Circuit City.

So, which do you think it is -- opportunity or money pit?

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But who's got the guts to put their money in there now?
And then again... I am not as good as Neill Ferguson predicting the future.

Opportunity. If I could go back to the Great Depression and buy buy buy, I would be well off 10 years later. I think the same opportunity exits today. GM is super cheap. Does anyone really think GM will be totally liquidated, shareholders given $0, and that the company will never make cars for profit again? Of course not. It will take a while, but they will make money again. Same deal with the banks. Bankers make money. Bankers work the financial system to make money, and historically have been one of the most profitable sectors. Do some home work, pick the strongest, and buy.

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