Although the coronavirus pandemic has caused a recession and businesses are shutting down, there's still a whole lot of bullishness left in the markets, and many stocks continue to soar. It can be a dangerous time to invest, though, especially if you're buying shares of companies that are trading at expensive valuations.

A good way to protect your portfolio is by investing in stocks that trade at modest multiples and offer good value for your money. Below are three top stocks that aren't expensive buys today:

1. CVS

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) is a top name in healthcare, and although the company's known for its near-10,000 locations across the country, it's proving to be much more than just a pharmacy retailer. With the acquisition of health insurance provider Aetna in 2018, CVS has been expanding its services at many locations, turning them into HealthHubs that offer greater healthcare services for customers, including giving them access to in-store dietitians and helping patients manage chronic conditions.

Selecting a point between price and value.

Image source: Getty Images.

Investors who buy shares of CVS are investing in a solid healthcare company that's trading at some very attractive valuations. The stock's currently priced at a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of less than 12 and a price-to-book (P/B) multiple of about 1.3. Value investors will typically look for a P/E of 15 or lower and a P/B of less than 2, so CVS definitely ticks off those boxes.The Rhode Island-based company has recorded a profit in each of its last four quarterly reports.

CVS currently pays its investors a quarterly dividend of $0.50, which on annual basis yields a little over 3.1% -- well above the average S&P 500 stock, which pays just 2%.

2. Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is a top financial-services company that helps companies and individuals manage their assets. In February, the company announced that it would be acquiring E*Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC) for $13 billion. The popular trading platform augments the company's current offerings, allowing Morgan Stanley to expand its services into digital banking and grow its self-directed brokerage -- which are two areas of strength for E*Trade.

On July 16, Morgan Stanley released strong second-quarter earnings for 2020, with net revenue of $13.4 billion, an increase of 31% from the $10.2 billion that the New York-based company generated in the prior-year period. Carrying much of that growth was Morgan Stanley's institutional securities segment, where investment banking revenue of $2.1 billion rose 39% from the prior-year period and sales and trading-related revenue grew by 68%.

The stock market's been performing well this year despite COVID-19, so it may not be all that surprising that the company's seeing greater trading activity thus far.

Despite the solid results, investors still aren't willing to pay much of a premium for the stock, and that makes it an attractive buy right now. At a P/E of just 9 and a P/B ratio of 1, this is an even better value buy than CVS.

Currently, Morgan Stanley pays its shareholders a quarterly dividend of $0.35, which yields 2.8% per year.

3. Newmont

Newmont (NYSE:NEM) is a gold mining company that also produces silver, copper, zinc, and lead. The company became the top gold miner in the world when it acquired Canadian company Goldcorp in April 2019 for $10 billion.

With more resources, greater exposure to gold, and gold prices on the rise over the past year, Newmont's stock has been doing very well:

Gold Price in US Dollars Chart

Gold Price in US Dollars data by YCharts

Generally, when times are tough -- like they are during a recession -- investors flock to safe investments like gold. And higher gold prices mean a company like Newmont can get more for its output. 

The Colorado-based company's posted a profit in three of its past four quarterly reports, and its operating margin has typically topped 10% over the past two years. The gold producer released its first-quarter results for 2020 on May 5. Its sales were up 43% year over year, which the company attributed to greater production from the Goldcorp acquisition and higher gold prices.

Shares of this top gold stock currently trade at a P/E of over 13 and a P/B of 2.4. While it's a pricier valuation than those of the other two stocks on this list, gold's been doing well this year, and may continue to do so as the economy continues to struggle -- which could make Newmont's sales and profit numbers even stronger in future quarters, and make up for the higher valuation.

The company currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.25, coming out to 1.5% annually.

Which stock is the best buy right now?

Here's a look at how all these stocks are doing so far in 2020:

NEM Chart

NEM data by YCharts

They've all outperformed the S&P 500, and could continue to do so given their attractive valuations. It's hard to go wrong picking any of these stocks, but I'd jump on the Newmont bandwagon -- I don't see the country pulling out of this recession anytime soon, which should make gold an even hotter investment than it is today.