Though value investors have been some of the most successful investors out there, finding good stocks at bargain prices is far from easy. Though markets aren't as efficient as some university professors may want to tell you, they generally do a pretty good job pricing stocks. So while there are good deals out there, you're going to have to break a bit of a mental sweat if you want to make sure that you're investing in the stock equivalent of Brad Pitt, not Kato Kaelin.
Fortunately for us, in the search for stock market values, we have the 170,000-plus members of The Motley Fool's CAPS community voting on which stocks are true stars and which are just posers. To gather some ideas, I've dug up a handful of companies valued at less than twice their book value -- a measure often used by value investors.
Book Value Multiple
52-Week Stock Performance
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners
American Capital Agency
Source: Yahoo! Finance and CAPS as of March 1.
As you can see, though these stocks all carry value-like multiples, the CAPS community obviously doesn't think that all are worthy of your investment dollars.
No twinkle in these stars
Despite the two-star rating, there are still CAPS members who've given a thumbs up to Arena Pharmaceuticals. Some look at it as a lottery ticket that could score big if the Food and Drug Administration does end up approving the company's lorcaserin obesity drug, while others seem to simply be looking at the market potential for obesity treatments and more or less ignoring the FDA.
But the bottom line is that the company faces a very tough slog. Following its rejection of lorcaserin last year, the FDA has asked Arena to gather more data regarding a growing list of concerns. And experience from elsewhere in the industry is hardly encouraging. Orexigen's
Moving to Sprint, we find a similarly low CAPS rating, but a very different situation. Sprint may be struggling, but, unlike Arena, the company produces very healthy amounts of cash flow. Certainly the company is still far from "there," but fourth-quarter results suggested that the turnaround is continuing to gain traction. Noted stock skeptic David Einhorn sees potential in the turnaround and has bought a significant stake through his GreenLight Capital hedge fund. Perhaps bearish CAPS members may start to change their views?
When it comes to American Capital and many of the other mortgage REITs, there are a lot of investors that swear by them and their massive dividends -- American Capital's is 19% at the moment. Other investors, like me, aren't quite as excited about this industry. Personally, I see the current low interest rates as a cyclical peak for the group and would rather wait to see what shakes out once rates start rising. The three-star rating on CAPS seems to mirror these divergent views.
A five-star is born!
Now that we've left the riffraff behind, we can move on to a stock that CAPS members think is worthwhile, Manulife Financial.
This Canadian life insurer has had a rough go of it over the past few years. Lower stock markets and rock-bottom interest rates clobbered the company's bottom line thanks in large part to exposure from its retirement products. But management has been working hard since then to reduce the company's sensitivity to both through hedging and diversifying the business.
While higher interest rates and a positively ebullient stock market gave the company a big boost in the fourth quarter, its fourth-quarter results suggest that better days may be ahead.
But while CAPS members thought highly enough of Manulife to give it four stars, it couldn't quite top this week's top pick, Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.
There's nothing terribly exciting about this Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. Unless, of course, you like dependable assets, dividends, and high barriers to entry. The company owns assets like electricity transmission lines, railroads, and timberlands -- assets that are tough, if not impossible, to duplicate and are generally very reliable income generators. Currently the stock yields a juicy 5.5%, and of course, we have the low book value that brought us to the stock in the first place.
[Brookfield Infrastructure] owns so many core infrastructure assets that eventually it will have to rise. The world population is growing, and [Brookfield Infrastructure] will benefit just from more people using more stuff, i.e.- electricity, timber, coal, product moving in and out of its ports, etc. Plus, with that 6.5% yield, it pays to wait.
Make your vote count!
Do you agree that Brookfield Infrastructure Partners could be America's next top value stock? Click over to CAPS and let the rest of the community know what you think. And while you're there, you can log your vote for the other stocks that you think should be in the running.
Like those dividends at Brookfield? Then you may want to check out these big, safe dividends.
Brookfield Infrastructure is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Brookfield Infrastructure is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. Brookfield Infrastructure is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Brookfield Infrastructure. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy -- which does nothing but monitor disclosures -- knows that boring can be beautiful.