Should I rush to buy these fallen ASX 200 blue-chip shares currently at 52-week lows?

When quality companies hit rock bottom, there is potential to pick up an absolute bargain.

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When blue-chip S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) shares are hitting year-long lows, it is only prudent to consider buying them.

After all, it's every investor's goal to buy low and sell high, right?

However, just because a stock is cheap doesn't automatically make a great buy.

A stock has no memory, so it doesn't care whether it's struggling in a 52-week trough. All that matters is the company's future prospects.

With this in mind, let's take a look at three classic ASX 200 stocks that are currently trading at a heavy discount:

The red kangaroo visiting the vet

Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) is the most prominent among the potential bargains at the moment.

The company has been through a torrid few weeks as one crisis after another hit, much of it self-inflicted.

The troubles, to name just a few, have included allegedly selling seats on cancelled flights, a court ruling that it had illegally sacked 1,683 staff, public outcry forcing it to scrap plans to pocket $500 million worth of customer credits, and accusations that it has politicians in its pockets by giving them perks not available to its customers.

And, quite rightly, the stock price has plunged almost 26% since 24 July.

So is it a cheap buy right now?

I don't think it is. The airline is now in customer relationship repair mode, and service improvements will cost money.

Also, many experts have noted the previous chief executive Alan Joyce failed to renew Qantas' ageing fleet, meaning the new boss Vanessa Hudson could be faced with a huge capital expenses bill in the coming years.

How to reduce costs in an inflationary world?

One half of Australia's supermarket duopoly, Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL), is seeing its shares trade right now at 52-week lows.

Although groceries are a consumer staple business that can still generate earnings in tough economic times, Coles is suffering from cost inflation.

Wilson Asset Management portfolio manager Matthew Haupt recently said that one of the biggest expenses — labour — simply cannot come down unless Coles dramatically reduces headcount.

And, although the supermarket sector is predominantly a two-player game, challenger Aldi tends to thrive when consumers are strapped for cash.

This is why I'm likely to stay on the sidelines for Coles as well.

However, the stock does pay out a tidy 4.2% dividend yield, which could act as consolation for those willing to give it a go as a long-term investment.

Take a punt on this bargain

The gambling industry is one where literally the business can rig the numbers against the customer in order to generate earnings.

However, casino operator Star Entertainment Group Ltd (ASX: SGR) has faced so much regulatory scrutiny and criticism over the past year that its stock price has tumbled 73%.

But with the worst of it over, could it be a bargain buy?

Personally I don't want to invest in the gambling sector. But those investors who are okay with that could do well out of Star Entertainment shares.

According to CMC Markets, all eight analysts currently covering the stock reckon it's a buy.

More than one reputable broker thinks Star shares could double over the next year.

This could be the one to buy while everyone else is turned off.

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Coles Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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