With battered share prices, these behemoths are bargains.
To me, there's an awful lot of sense in 'anchoring' your portfolio with solid, dependable businesses that look set to generate dividends and capital growth for years to come.
Which is precisely one reason, of course, why both my ISA and SIPP portfolios are solidly anchored with index trackers following the FTSE.
46% of the entire FTSE 100, for instance, is made up of just its 10 largest shares -- global giants in every sense. Businesses such as Vodafone (LSE: VOD), for instance, the second-largest business in the FTSE by market cap. Or Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB), the seventh largest.
But despite the low costs some of the market's most attractive index-tracking exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and tracker funds -- charms that have only increased since Vanguard launched its new range of low-cost ETFs, which went live this week -- index trackers aren't for everybody.
Some investors, in short, want direct exposure to the underlying shares, figuring that buying the businesses directly avoid paying even the miserly TERs levied by industry leaders Vanguard and other low-cost tracker providers.
And, right now, the FTSE's Top 10 contains no fewer than three global giants that are experiencing adverse headwinds. Their share prices are depressed, and they stand on beaten-down price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios.
Buy into these global giants, goes the logic, and you'll still get a decent chunk of the FTSE 100's biggest businesses -- but at bargain prices, with every prospect of a FTSE-beating upside.
So here they are.
The bargains start at the very top of pile with banking behemoth HSBC (LSE: HSBA), which is Britain's largest quoted company, and the world's second-largest banking and financial services group.
Dating from the 1865, the bank has long since outgrown its roots as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, and has been headquartered in London since 1993.
Now, you don't need me to tell you that banks haven't had a good recession, and HSBC's share price certainly reflects this. Down from over £8 in 2007, the bank's shares closed on Wednesday night at 507p, placing it on a forecast P/E of under 8.
But HSBC didn't need a bailout, and hasn't had to be recapitalised. And it does have a global footprint, and is particularly strong on its home turf of Asia -- where a very sizable proportion of its revenues are earned.
One to buy and tuck away for the long term? I think so.
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BP (LSE: BP) was once Britain's largest quoted business, with a market capitalisation that was almost 25% higher than the next most highly ranked share.
But the last few years haven't been kind to BP. There was the 2005 explosion at the company's Texas City Refinery, for instance, that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others. In the same year, Hurricane Dennis nearly destroyed the company's massive Thunder Horse production platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
More recently, there's been the fallout of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, two abrupt departures of the company's chief executive and a long-running spat with the co-owners of the company's massive Russian oil interests.
In short, far from trading at £6 or so, BP's shares languished on Wednesday at just 395p, placing them on a very undemanding prospective rating 5.6 -- surely bargain territory.
Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) is the FTSE's ninth-largest business by market capitalisation. And it, too, has taken a battering in recent times -- leaving its shares priced at decidedly tasty-looking levels.
Pre-recession, on the back of booming demand from China, its shares were changing hands at £60. They closed on Wednesday night at £27.90, down 40% or so over the past year.
The reason? The resources cycle, and -- once again -- slowing demand from China. Rated on a decidedly undemanding P/E of 5.5, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that Rio is currently looking decidedly tasty.
But interestingly, Rio isn't the only resources currently priced at these bargain levels -- although it is the only one in the FTSE's top 10.
This free report from The Motley Fool -- "Top Sectors Of 2012" -- not only gives you the names of nine other beaten down miners, but also profiles a relative minnow of which I wasn't previously aware. But with its substantial free cash flow and stout balance sheet stuffed with cash, I'm certainly keen to find out more.
As I say, the report is free, so what have you got to lose by requesting a copy? It can be in your inbox in seconds.
Where is the UK's leading dividend stock‑picker investing today? The identities of Neil Woodford's favourite blue chips are revealed in this free Motley Fool report ‑‑ "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor".
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> Malcolm owns shares in BP, but none of the other businesses mentioned here.