The whole idea behind being a value investor is that you find over-looked, un-loved, usually boring businesses, and buy them on the cheap. The very idea of buying a "value" stock at or near it 52-week high seems illogical.

Yet there are times when a company's prospects are still not fully reflected in its stock price -- even if that price is sitting higher than it has at any other point in the past year.

A hand with rising stock charts coming out of it.

Image source: Getty Images

Today, three of our Foolish investors give you their take on value stocks that might appear expensive but are actually still attractive. Read on to see why Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD), and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) all fit the bill.

Don't overthink this one

Brian Stoffel (Apple): In picking out a value stock trading near 52-week highs, it can be tempting to go for a company with an incredibly low P/E, or a sustainable dividend hovering over 3%. But I'm not going to fall into that trap. In Apple, we've got a stock trading at all time highs that's still a solid value play.

What makes it a value stock? Consider the following:

  • It has $261 billion in cash and investments versus "just" $90 billion in long-term debt.
  • If we back out all that cash (net debt) from the market cap, the company is trading for just 13 times free cash flow.

In addition, Apple has undeniable pricing power -- which could soon be demonstrated once again with the release of the iPhone X. Forbes  rates the Apple brand as the world's most valuable, coming in at $170 billion.

And even though the company's dividend currently yields just 1.6%, there's tons of room for growth there: Apple needed to use only 24% of free cash flow over the past 12 months to pay for it.

This bank stock has paid dividends since the 1800s

Matt Frankel (Toronto-Dominion Bank): The banking sector has been one of the hottest areas of the market over the past year, but many banks could have much more room to climb. Canadian banks look especially attractive right now, as they haven't skyrocketed quite as much as most of their U.S. counterparts.

One great example, which recently reached a new 52-week high, is Toronto-Dominion Bank, better known to most consumers simply as TD Bank.

There are several reasons to like TD. The bank is Canada's largest credit card issuer, and it has been expanding its presence in the U.S. recently with valuable co-branding partnerships such as Target and Nordstrom. With an abundance of low- or no-interest deposits, TD stands to benefit tremendously from the expected rising interest rates in coming years. And finally, with a presence in less than one-third of U.S. states, TD has lots of room to grow.

For income-seeking investors, it's also important to mention that TD Bank has steadily paid dividends for 160 years, and also has a strong history of increasing its payout. Since 1995, the bank has increased its dividend at a 11% annualized rate, and its 3.6% yield is well above its peer-group average. And since it's not a U.S. bank, TD has more freedom to set its own dividend policy.

A biotech without a lot of risk

Rich Duprey (AbbVie): Even though shares of biotech giant AbbVie hit a new 52-week high and are up 42% so far in 2017, the stock trades at less than 22 times earnings and under 14 times next year's estimates. That compares favorably with the S&P 500, which goes for around 25 times earnings and 19 times estimates.

Although AbbVie depends on its rheumatoid arthritis therapy Humira for around two-thirds of its revenue, its next leading treatment, Imbruvica, could become one of the top five cancer drugs on the market, while the biotech has one of the best drug pipelines in the industry, including two cancer drugs (Rova-T and Veliparib) and an autoimmune-disease drug (ABT-494).

AbbVie also pays a dividend of $2.56 per share that currently yields around 2.9%, and if you include the time before it was spun off from Abbott Labs in 2013, it has a history of raising its payout to shareholders for over 25 years, making it a Dividend Aristocrat.

Also, AbbVie's payout ratio -- the percentage of its net profits the biopharmaceutical pays out in dividends -- was a reasonable 60% over the past year, indicating that the company's generous reward to shareholders will continue.

With analysts expecting AbbVie to expand earnings at a 14% clip annually over the next five years, its stock still makes sense to buy despite the heights it's already obtained.

Brian Stoffel owns shares of Apple. Matthew Frankel owns shares of Apple and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.