If you think that finding true value in the stock market is a simple process, I have a bridge to sell you.

The market does a pretty good job of pricing stocks, but it isn't as efficient as some university professors may want you to think. You'll have to break a bit of a mental sweat to make sure you're putting a true value stock in your portfolio.

Fortunately for us, in the search for stock market values, we have the 100,000-plus members of The Motley Fool's CAPS community voting on which stocks do or don't deserve a look. To gather some ideas, I've dug up a handful of companies valued at less than twice their book value -- a measure that value investors typically use.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Stock Performance

CAPS Rating (5 Max)

Lehman Brothers Holdings (NYSE: LEH)




SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK)




Capital One Financial (NYSE: COF)




Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO)




Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS)




Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as April 28.
*Morgan Stanley's stock performance is adjusted for the June 2007 spinoff of Discover Financial Services.

These stocks all carry value-like multiples, but the CAPS community doesn't think they're all are worthy of your investment dollars.

Walking the stock runway
Investors haven't liked the looks of Capital One, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan Stanley. Of those three, Lehman may worry investors the most -- some people think the investment bank could end up heading down the same road as Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC). CAPS player wirelessben rated Lehman an underperformer and doesn't think it'll last:

In 1929, investors were allowed to leverage themselves 10 to 1. It caused a bubble and the bubble popped. These guys are leveraged 31 to [1], and they bet wrong. The only question is how long can they cook the books to hide their losses.

Meanwhile, investors consider Capital One to have poor credit practices that will cause it to eat more than its share of losses as the U.S. economy continues to slip. And even though Morgan Stanley's situation may be a bit sunnier compared with the other two, most investors aren't ready to place bullish bets on any part of the investment-banking group.

Down to the final two
CAPS players do like SanDisk. It's one of the leaders in flash memory, a solid-state storage technology that many think has a lot of room to grow. Oversupply was a major concern last year, but more recently, price increases from competitors such as Samsung may be signaling a pendulum swing. The stock's low price has sweetened the deal even more.

However, Valero's 3,356 "outperform" votes in CAPS give the oil refiner an edge in today's walk-off. The oil refiner has taken a hit over the past year, because higher oil prices haven't translated to more profits. Instead, soaring oil prices have squeezed margins. Investors with an eye toward the longer term, though, are undeterred. One of the reasons behind their bullishness is the lack of new refinery construction, as the Fool's own TMFOtter pointed out two years ago:

Whatever else might happen during the oil crisis, our government will completely fail to find a way to make it easier for more refineries to get sited. There isn't a single refinery in Florida. Does that seem like a good or a bad thing? Well, for companies like Valero, that seems pretty good.

Make your vote count!
Do you agree that Valero could be America's next top value stock? Head over to CAPS, and let the rest of the community know what you think. While you're there, you can log your vote for any other stocks that you think should be in the running.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy tried its hand at modeling for a while, but it couldn't turn left and didn't have Blue Steel to fall back on.