Though value investors have been some of the most successful investors out there, finding good stocks at bargain prices is far from easy. Markets aren't as efficient as some university professors may want to tell you, but they generally do a pretty good job pricing stocks -- except perhaps right now. 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 Johnny Depp, not Kato Kaelin.

Fortunately for us, in the search for stock market values, we have the 115,000-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

1-Year Stock Performance

CAPS Rating (5 max)

Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER)




Home Depot (NYSE:HD)




Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM)




CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS)




Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE:TAP)




Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS as of Oct. 10.

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
What's in the cards for Merrill Lynch? That all depends on Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Back in mid-September, B of A announced its intention to acquire Merrill in an all-stock deal. Though the transaction was originally valued at $50 billion, the subsequent throttling of B of A's stock has brought that sum down substantially. Still, as I write this, Merrill is trading at a 12% discount to the acquisition value. Not that anyone in CAPS really gives a hoot -- Merrill has a lackluster one-star rating, while B of A has a "I can do just fine without you" three-star rating.

You might think that you're avoiding the market's primary pain point by skipping the financials and heading to a retailer like Home Depot, but you're unlikely to find solace there. Home Depot's stock carries a two-star rating on CAPS, sporting bearish comments like this one from Beacon10 earlier in the month: "I dont see any light at the end of this tunnel. It will be a while before the housing market starts to make a strong comeback." And though Beacon10 likes Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) more, its three-star rating suggests that it's not one to rush out to own, either.

As for Newmont Mining, plenty of CAPS players think its focus on gold makes it a strong pick in a time of severe uncertainty, but since it still couldn't muster more than a three-star rating, it was well out of the running for this week's top value stock.

A five-star is born!
I certainly can't blame you if you consider CVS' current valuation pretty darn attractive. After all, the company is huge, stable, and operates a business that should take less of a swat from the economic downturn. CAPS players (including me!) have been positive on the stock, and its four-star rating -- along with its low valuation -- should make it a good candidate for more research.

However, CVS' four stars were bested this week by the perfect five-star rating of beer purveyor Molson Coors. The obvious theory here: The worse the economy gets, the more people will want to get drunk. Maybe there's some truth to that. Bad economy or not, though, this company is worth a look any time its valuation gets attractive. With brands like Molson, Coors, Killian's Red, and Keystone, and some really solid cash flow, an investor might want to hang onto this kind of company.

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

Further CAPS-lovin' Foolishness:

In the coming weeks, Fool co-founder David Gardner and his Motley Fool Pro team will invest $1 million in a portfolio designed to help you make money in any market. The service, which just launched, will rely heavily on proprietary CAPS "community intelligence" data to establish long and short positions in a broad range of securities, including common stocks, publicly traded put and call options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). To learn more about Motley Fool Pro and to receive a private invitation to join, simply enter your email address in the box below.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Bank of America, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. Bank of America is an Income Investor pick. The Home Depot is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy always makes sure to have a beer Koozie handy; bad economy or not, you never know when you'll need to crack a cold one.