Tickers in this Article: SMRT, FITB, DNDN, LVS
The one-year anniversary of the trough of the great bear market of 2009 has finally arrived, and investors who had the courage and foresight to invest when everyone was running the other direction were rewarded with a 68% return off the bottom.

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While this is a fantastic overall return, there are a host of stocks that returned triple and even quadruple digit percentage returns. Many of these stocks were left for dead; the ones the pundits told you were gone.

Best Bear Market Stocks
Stein Mart (Nasdaq:SMRT) was one of these stocks, hitting a bottom of $1.00 per share in March 2009. Business was in a free fall, as consumers cut back purchases to only essential items. This was reflected in Stein Mart's same store sales for the fourth quarter ending Jan 31, 2009, which fell a stunning 12%. The stock has since recovered to the $9 per share range.

Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq:FITB) is up 840% from the bottom last March. The bank suffered from its exposure to the Midwestern region, and then expanded into Florida at just the wrong time and got hit with the housing collapse.

Fifth Third Bancorp received $3.4 billion in government capital through the Troubled Asset Relief Plan (TARP), and was even forced to sell 51% of its payment processing business to raise capital to reinforce its balance sheet.

Big Losers Turned Big Winners
Casino operator Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) recorded a severe net loss a year ago when analysts were expecting the company to turn a profit and then a month later, on the same day the market hit its bottom, ousted William Weidner, the company's president and chief operating officer.

Las Vegas Sands renegotiated its covenants on its debt and ended up working its way through the liquidity crisis it faced. The company is up 1252% since then. (Find out how to look at the big picture - even when the market's short-term outlook is less than rosy. Check out Finding Solid Buy-And-Hold Stocks.)

Dendreon (Nasdaq:DNDN) is up 1279% since March 2009. This stock wasn't really caught up in the financial crisis or credit crunch like the other stocks. Dendreon hit a low in March 2009 due more to skepticism by the market about Provenge, the drug that the company is developing to treat prostate cancer.

One year later, the effectiveness of Provenge has been backed by several studies conducted by researchers, with the latest showing improved survival rates as high as 40% for those taking the drug. Most obstacles to the approval of Provenge by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have cleared as the firm waits for the results of the regulatory decision.

The Bottom Line
The old market cliché of being fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful, proved to be especially true last March 2009, which was arguably the bottom of the bear market. While most investors ran for the sidelines, those that acted rationally and did research were amply rewarded. (Value investing may seem fool-proof, but it carries more risk than you might know. For further reading, see Buy High, Sell Much Higher.)

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