Tickers in this Article: STD, BP, VOD, XLE, IXP
Whenever the market takes a downturn, stock fundamentals become more attractive. This is not to say that all stocks are now better buys than they were when the market was hovering at its latest highs. On the contrary, some stocks and some fundamentals create better trading opportunities than others - either because their sector is now in the buying focus, or because they themselves have been overlooked by the broad rank of investors.

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Below we've focused on a number of giant European stocks that have been particularly hard hit by the recent market downturn - and whose fundamentals, as a consequence, are looking very attractive.

Fundamental Spillover

The first of these companies is an outfit that would rather not be attracting media attention, and that's British Petroleum (NYSE: BP). Recent talk of whether the company would be forced into bankruptcy by the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico has brought the stock down some 50% from its highs in late April. That compares unfavorably with the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE: XLE), which is down a relatively limited 12.5% over the same period. At the same time, however, BP's drop has highlighted the company's now very attractive fundamentals, although the stock remains extremely volatile.

We note emphatically that anyone interested in BP at this juncture is likely possessed of a strong contrarian outlook. This investor is betting not only on the company's ability to maintain a dividend, collect on its insurance claims and manage a massive cleanup, but also on the fact that the stock's sell-off went way too far too fast and is due for an appreciable bounce.

That said, BP shares currently pay a whopping 10.7% annual dividend, trade with a P/E of just under 5 and possess a market capitalization of nearly $100 billion. The stock also trades hands just slightly over book value, with a P/B of 1.13.

Another U.K. Behemoth In Focus

Vodaphone Group (Nasdaq: VOD) is a British-based, global communications operator with a market cap of $110 billion. Currently, the stock is offering a 7.8% annual dividend yield and is trading at 8.8 times last year's earnings. VOD also trades at a fraction of the company's breakup value, with a P/B of 0.80.

Year to date, Vodaphone stock is off 9%, a performance that trails the iShares S&P Global Telecommunication ETF (NYSE: IXP), which is off only 7% since New Year's.

Last on the list is a bank with significant exposure to so-called PIIGS nations' debt. Banco Santander SA (NYSE: STD) is a Madrid-based global banking giant with a market cap of $87 billion. The stock pays an 11% dividend, trades with a P/E of 8.4 and has a P/B of just 0.88.

STD stock is off 35% YTD.

The Wrap

Three stocks with three different stories that share one common theme: great fundamentals. If the market emerges from this pullback in bullish fashion, look for these companies' stocks to rebound dramatically. (The investing world loves to talk about fundamentals, but do you know what the term means? To learn more, read What Are A Stock's 'Fundamentals'?)

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