The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.By James Brumley NEW YORK ( StreetAuthority) --It's no big secret how most stocks have been devalued during the past three months. Debt worries in Europe, combined with sluggish economic data in the United States (including a pesky unemployment rate above 9%) have had investors heading for the exit. Bargain hunters have their eyes wide open looking for underpriced equities. What's a little obscured, however, is the fact that some of the market's strongest names are back under their deep lows seen in March of 2009 -- just before the market staged a 70% rally before stalling. Only this time, many of these companies are still quite profitable and are sporting dirt-cheap price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios. Investors looking for monster opportunities may want to start with these five ideas. Staples ( SPLS) At less than $15 a share, the office-supply retailer is trading right around its lows from the March 2009 bottom. Things are significantly different this time, though. For starters, despite the pessimistic assumptions that drove Staples from $23 in early 2011 to the current price under $15, earnings are still on the rise. The company has earned $1.24 per share during the past four quarters, translating into a trailing P/E of about 12. With the exception of the plunge in September 2008, that's as cheap as we've seen shares in more than a decade. And just to reiterate the important point, earnings are still growing and are expected to do so again in 2012. Gilead Sciences ( GILD) At about $41 per share, Gilead Sciences is about 10% below its low closing price of $45.43 from March of 2009, though it's worth noting how this biotech name tends to trade independently of the market. Still, at a P/E of 12.3, Gilead shares are as cheap as they've been in years. What's interesting here is how the company managed to defy the skeptics for so long. Gilead Sciences shares didn't go anywhere in 2009 and then took a big hit in 2010, mostly on fears of new legislation and worries about patent expiration. Yet, earnings continued to increase, thanks to its very lucrative HIV drugs. Last quarter's record per-share earnings of 93 cents translated into trailing 12-month earnings of $3.32 per share, which is almost a record as well. It may be a tad soon to worry about Gilead just yet. Gilead is one stock David Sterman named as one of his favorite "forever stocks" in this article .