Are you familiar with the dynamic duo of Fama and French? No, they didn't sing "Mrs. Robinson" -- that was Simon and Garfunkel. And no, they didn't perform "Who's on First" -- that was Abbott and Costello.

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 trading at less than two times their book value. To focus on high-quality stocks, I've cross-referenced these against ratings in our Motley Fool CAPS community, which includes more than 115,000 investors.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Change in Share Price

CAPS Rating

Western Refining (NYSE:WNR)




Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC)




ValueClick (NASDAQ:VCLK)




Rowan Companies (NYSE:RDC)




Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT)




Data from CAPS, Capital IQ, and Yahoo! Finance as of Sept. 19.

Five years ago, Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) would have made this list with its 1.6 book value multiple. Since then, the stock has been on a massive bull run and is up more than 800%.

While we can't expect that all of these are going to perform like Petrobras, the CAPS community thinks that these are some good choices when it comes to value stocks. With that in mind, I thought I'd dig in a little further on a few of these stocks.

Valuable value
Despite the recent sell-off in oil, there are still some attractive areas of the oil industry -- but investors have to pick their spots. Though Western Refining's low multiple and big slump over the past year may make it look particularly attractive, the company carries a heavy load of debt that could create a pinch if refining margins remain below historical norms. That's not to say that avoiding refiners altogether is necessary -- other refiners like Valero (NYSE:VLO), though also hurting from a low refining margin, are better-positioned to recover.

Meanwhile, Rowan, which provides drill rigs and drilling services, has a relatively conservative balance sheet and should benefit from the search for new oil around the globe. Of the 588 CAPS members who have rated Rowan, 97% have given the stock a thumbs-up. Marc64, a CAPS All-Star and a Rowan fan, rated Rowan's stock an outperformer back in June, saying:

These guys actually build drilling equipment, which I think is a great niche. In combination with their contract services, I'm betting their very good revenues persist in the face of peak oil concerns, and oil demand realities.

But if finding a safe port in the ongoing stock market storm is your top priority, Income Investor recommendation Kraft Foods may be the best pick from this week's list. This snack king sells time-tested products ranging from Cheez Whiz to Wheat Thins. It then turns these tasty treats into piles of cash, which it returns to investors through dividends and stock buybacks. While Kraft doesn't enjoy Rowan's five-star status on CAPS, the 1,200-plus CAPS members who are bullish on the stock suggest that it's definitely worth a hard look.

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

More CAPS Foolishness:

Petroleo Brasileiro and Kraft Foods are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. 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, the disclosure policy is just an inanimate collection of words.