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BP, Goldman: Which Is the Lesser of 2 Evils?

Stocks in this article: BP GS

By Jeff Reeves of InvestorPlace

Who's really worse, BP (BP) or Goldman Sachs (GS)? Consumers have plenty of reasons to be down on both companies right now. Energy giant BP is up to its elbows in oil as a deepwater well on the ocean floor continues to spew oil over a month after the initial failure, and Goldman is currently under investigation for allegedly peddling investments while at the same time profiting from those investments' failures.

But some traders can't help but wonder whether the problems are overblown and one or both of these stocks are actually the bargain buy of the year right now. So what's the deal? Are these stocks really bad for investors, or are they just victims of bad press?

First, let's look at how far they've fallen. BP stock is down 27% year to date and is trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of less than 7, with shares just $2 away from a 52-week low.

GS stock has seen a more recent but equally severe meltdown, with shares off more than 20% from their peak in mid-April. Goldman Sachs P/E valuation is less than 6, and another 6% to 7% decline will send shares to a new 52-week low.

Under normal conditions, investors would leap for a share of these blue chips at those valuations. However, these aren't normal conditions. Bad press continues to hold back shares and neither company has appeared to hit much of a floor just yet. While both GS and BP stocks have rebounded slightly in the past few days, their overall trend is clearly downward.

But it's worth noting that recent hang-ups aside, both stocks were clearly on the way up in 2010.

BP has posted strong earnings growth in recent quarters and topped expectations in three out of the last four reports by an average of over 19%. In April, the oil company boasted its first-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier to $6.1 billion due to higher selling prices and lower production costs and taxes. Earnings were also up an impressive 42% over the previous quarter. Updated Version:

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