Are you familiar with the dynamic duo of Fama and French? No, they didn't eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil -- that was Adam and Eve. And they didn't defeat Mr. Freeze -- that was Batman and Robin.

While the names Eugene Fama and Kenneth French may not come up in most dinner 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 (you can run the same screen on the CAPS screener). To focus on high-quality stocks, I've cross-referenced these against ratings in our CAPS community of more than 135,000 investors.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Change

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Jones Lang Lasalle (NYSE:JLL)




Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO)




Transocean (NYSE:RIG)




Chevron (NYSE:CVX)




Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)




Data from CAPS, Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Yahoo! Finance as of July 24.

While these aren't formal recommendations, the CAPS community thinks that these are some good choices when it comes to value stocks. With that I mind, I thought I'd dig in a little further on Jones Lang Lasalle.

Where is the value?
The announcement that new home sales jumped 11% between May and June gave a bit of a jolt to homebuilders like KB Home (NYSE:KBH). The monthly home sales numbers are notoriously fickle though, and even if sales did pop, prices are still looking pretty woozy. And given the amount of fallout in the real estate sector already, it's no surprise that investors are still cringing at the thought of anything related to real estate.

Even though Jones Lang LaSalle plays in a very different part of the real estate world, the crash has certainly taken some of the wind out its sails. However, it looks like it's going to take a lot more to shake loose the company's core assets. And while the 1.4 billion square feet of property around the world and the $40 billion-plus in real estate investment assets that it manages are certainly important to the business, I think that the company has some even more important assets.

In services businesses such as real estate and investment management, experience and reputation count for a lot and Jones Lang has both in spades. Though Jones Lang's history as a public company only dates back a decade or so, the predecessor partnerships -- Jones Lang Wootton and LaSalle Partners -- trace their inceptions back to 1783 and 1968, respectively. In other words, this company has been at this a long time.

Maybe more importantly, the company built quite a reputation with outsiders and customers alike. It has been recognized as one of "America's Most Admired Companies" by Fortune magazine and one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" by the Ethisphere Institute. The company was also one of Procter & Gamble's (NYSE:PG) six "Suppliers of the Year" in 2008 from among 80,000 suppliers -- a pretty big vote of confidence from a major global corporation.

I'm sure these recognitions make great wall art for the Jones Lang offices, but I see them coming in very handy as the company continues to position itself as a real estate services company in a very new world. Not only will clients be looking for a trusted advisor to help them navigate a post-crash era, but Jones Lang's global footprint, experience, and reputation will also position them to pick up a lot of business in the increasingly globalized world.

But will it beat the market?
As great as the company's reputation and experience are, it doesn't mean bupkis to us investors if we don't think the stock is positioned to beat the rest of the market. Members of CAPS seem to think there's a very good chance that Jones Lang will be sprinting past the market in the years ahead -- overall, 855 members have given the stock a thumbs up versus just 31 down-thumbs.

ActingFoolish was the most recent member to share some bullish thoughts on Jones Lang and said:

This is a very well managed company that has survived many recessions. It will only come out of this one even stronger. But in regards to where we are today, this is a cyclical stock, you buy it when the P/E is at its highest, not lowest. The P/E is close to 58, earnings were a disaster last quarter and probably will be again this quarter, but the recovery is in sight. The P/E is at its highest just before the cyclical company turns. I bought some more today and feel very confident that in 2-4 years I will be soundly beating the market. The time is now to buy into cyclicals and when you can find a very well run company like this one, you jump in and enjoy the ride. Fool On!

So what do you think? Are the stocks in this group values, or value traps? Log onto CAPS and let the rest of the 135,000 member community know what you think.

More CAPS Foolishness:

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Procter & Gamble is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Jones Lang Lasalle is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned, though he is keeping an eye on some of them through his CAPS portfolio. You can connect with Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy wouldn't know a value trap from a hole in the wall, but then again, the disclosure policy is just an inanimate collection of words.