Are you familiar with the dynamic duo of Fama and French? No, they didn't sing "Maneater" -- that was Hall and Oates. And they didn't star in Baby Mama -- that was Poehler and Fey.

While the names Eugene Fama and Kenneth French may not come up in most dinner-party conversations, the two have done some very interesting academic research on stocks. In short, they've proposed that there's more to stock returns than volatility -- which was most academics' previous consensus. In research they conducted over various periods and across multiple geographic locations, Fama and French determined that stocks characterized as "value stocks" have consistently outperformed non-value stocks.

Today, I've rounded up five value stocks that are all trading at less than two times their book value. To focus on high-quality stocks, I've cross-referenced these against ratings in our CAPS community of more than 120,000 investors.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Change

CAPS Rating (max 5)

ReneSola (NYSE:SOL)




NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX)




Suntech Power (NYSE:STP)








Precision Castparts (NYSE:PCP)




Data from CAPS; Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's; and Yahoo! Finance as of Nov. 14, 2008.
ReneSola loss from January 2008 IPO to Nov. 14.

Five years ago, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) would have made this list, with its 1.8 book value multiple. Since then, the stock has been on a massive bull run, gaining more than 700%.

While we can't expect that all of these stocks will perform like Apple, the CAPS community thinks that these are good choices when it comes to value. With that in mind, I thought I'd dig in a little further on Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick Suntech Power.

Where is the value?
Most of Suntech Power's value lies squarely in the outlook for the solar energy industry. The company is one of the global leaders in photovoltaic solar cells and modules, and it handles products for projects as small as a single house and as large as a public utility. 

As the price of oil and other fossil fuels soared in the past couple of years, so did shares of Suntech and other solar players, such as First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) and Trina Solar. But the price of oil has tumbled around 60% from its midsummer peak, and the outlook for the solar industry as a whole is considerably less sunny. Now that fossil fuels are considerably cheaper, will consumers and businesses will be quite as keen to switch to more expensive alternatives like solar?

Solar could very well get relegated to the back burner -- particularly as the world deals with what looks like a scary economic downturn. Still, I see two potential scenarios that could push these companies forward. First, there is more to the solar momentum than just fossil fuel prices. The U.S. has gotten much more sensitive about energy policy, particularly the advisability of depending largely on other countries for something as critical as our energy needs. Globally, there is also a big environmental component to the demand for alternative fuels. Both of these drivers will persist, even as fossil fuel prices fall.

In addition, many people consider the crash in oil prices overdone. Just as speculative excitement drove prices to nearly $150 per barrel, some would argue that a similarly speculative dash for the exits has brought that same barrel below $60. A sense of normalcy returning to the energy trading markets, and an eventual global economic recovery, could lead to a bounce in fossil fuel prices.

CAPS members have been highly positive on Suntech -- 97% of the 4,000-plus members who've rated the company expect that it will outperform the broader market. CAPS member PiMaster is one of the many Suntech bulls, recently giving the stock a thumbs-up on the expectation of a bounce in oil prices:

Oil will go back up substantially over the course of the next few years, and as it does this stock will do very well. The world needs this technology, and as the biggest player in the biggest country (with a good presence in the US also), this stock seems like a must long-term. 

So what do you think? Are the stocks in this group values, or value traps? Log onto CAPS and let the rest of the 120,000 member community know what you think.

Further CAPS Foolishness:

Suntech Power Holdings and NYSE Euronext are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Precision Castparts and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool’s disclosure policy wouldn't know a value trap from a hole in the wall, but then again, it's just an inanimate collection of words.