The ways of finding shares worthy of further investigation are wide and varied.

One place I like to look for potential opportunities is amongst stocks which are trading near their 52-week lows.

That’s certainly not to say that just because a stock has been declining and is trading at a 12-month low that it’s cheap. In fact, more often than not the stock is probably in the midst of an earnings downgrade cycle and should be avoided. However from time-to-time it represents an interesting opportunity that deserves closer analysis.

Here are four stocks which are all trading near their one-year lows.

Three of them look appealing on valuation grounds and arguably could now have entered the ‘buy zone’.

Meanwhile, the other one appears to face significant business challenges which potentially aren’t fully priced into the share price yet and hence the stock is probably best avoided.

Contango Microcap Ltd (ASX: CTN) is a listed investment company (LIC) which, as its name suggests, is focussed on smaller ASX-listed stocks. With a long-term track record, Contango offers investors an easy way to gain exposure to a professionally manged, diversified portfolio of small companies with above-average growth potential.

Platinum Asset Management Limited (ASX: PTM) is one of Australia’s pre-eminent fund managers with a focus on investing internationally. The stock is down from a 52-week high of $8.34 to currently trade at $6.19, which is within 8% of its yearly low.

Village Roadshow Ltd (ASX: VRL) offers investors exposure to a range of leisure and entertainment assets including the Wet’n’Wild theme park in Sydney. The stock has slumped from around $7.70 to just over $5 since the beginning of 2016.

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd’s (ASX: VAH) share price has slumped from a high of 50 cents to a 52-week low of 27 cents. Today the shares are trading at 28.5 cents. Despite the “cheapness” of the share price, arguably Virgin remains a stock to avoid given the historically poor performance of the group.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.