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Tickers in this Article: APOL, STRA, JOE, CECO, GMR
The stock market has new winners - and losers - every day. In some cases, losing companies are suffering from company-specific events, and these are being factored into the stocks' prices by the market. But this is not always the case; sometimes losing stocks are just being brought down by peers that are experiencing problems or feeling the pain of a poor economic outlook. As a result, some losing stocks are ripe for appreciation. If you look at stocks that have hit 52-week lows, deciding which ones have potential requires an investigation of the economy, the company's industry and any company-specific issues. That said, any stock that hits a fresh 52-week low or one that is below 50% of its 52-week high is worth an initial look. Here we check out five stocks that are hitting rock bottom.

IN PICTURES: 8 Ways To Survive A Market Downturn

Industry Market Cap
52-Week Range
Current Price
Apollo Group (Nasdaq:APOL) Education 7.30B $36.43-$76.86 $36.87
Strayer Education (Nasdaq:STRA) Education 2.18B $132.01-$262.44 $136.52
The St. Joe Company (NYSE:JOE)
Real Estate 2.05B $19.56-$37.44 $19.87
Career Education Corp.(Nasdaq:CECO) Education 1.64B $16.35-$35.88 $16.78
General Maritime Corp.(NYSE:GMR) Shipping 0.39B $4.11-$8.95 $4.17

Three of these five stocks are in the education industry. As a result of proposed changes by the Department of Education that may affect the ability for the Apollo Group to receive financial aid, it recently withdrew its 2011 guidance. In addition, a number of analysts have also reduced their ratings on Apollo. The market has taken this as a sign that this trouble may extend to other for-profit school stocks. If the damages related to these developments are being over-exaggerated, these stocks could be undervalued.

These stocks are hitting lows in their 52-week trading ranges. In some cases, this can mean big potential for investors, but it's up to you to analyze these companies' financials and decide whether they are ripe for appreciation or just falling knives. A fresh 52-week low is a good signal to screen potential investments, but it should not be the data on which investment decisions are based. (Value investing may seem fool-proof, but it carries more risk than you might know. To learn more, check out Buy High, Sell Much Higher.)

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