The S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has added around 2.5% since the beginning of this year.

By comparison, the big four banks Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) are down 2.9%, 16%, 8.9% and 11.7% respectively.

So where is the market going now?

It’s hard to know. A number of market commentators have suggested that the just-completed reporting season was weak, and that analysts’ earnings estimates for the 2017 financial year are again overly optimistic. That only means one thing. Downward earnings revisions. And the market could follow.

But trying to time the market is a mug’s game.

Instead, a better use of our limited time and intellect is to focus on identifying good companies trading at attractive prices. Some of the bad news may already be baked in for some stocks, so they may well surprise on the upside, and could continue to offer investors steady returns in the years ahead.

These four companies – often regarded as blue chips because of their inclusion in the S&P/ASX 200 – could be a bargain at current prices.

Company Recent share price Current P/E Current dividend yield
Seven West Media Ltd (ASX: SWM) $0.78 6.5x 10.3%
Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) $3.30 6.7x 2.2%
Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia (ASX: GMA) $2.89 6.6x 10.4%
Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) $10.22 6.9x 2.5%

Source: S&P Global Market intelligence

Now they aren’t the most exiting companies in the world – unless you think Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is sexy, but the cheap price could make up for many sins. GMA even announced a special dividend, despite a 15% fall in underlying net profit. Free-to-air broadcasting is on the wane, with advertising revenues falling consistently – bad news for Seven West. And I’ve never been a fan of Qantas, and still wouldn’t invest in it – even at this cheap price. Westfield’s share price looks cheap, but there may be a reason why.

We’d also want to know why the market has marked their share prices down so far. A P/E of under 10x is usually considered cheap, but one under 7x is either a sign of the market being irrational or a company expected to majorly disappoint in the year ahead.

Who said investing was easy?

There are never any guarantees, but these companies might be priced for failure. Anything better than that could see share prices soar from here.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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.