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 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)

Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO)




Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK)




UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH)




Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO)








Data from CAPS; Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's; and Yahoo! Finance as of Oct. 17.

Five years ago, Monsanto (NYSE:MON) would have made this list with its 1.2 book value multiple. Since then, the stock has been on a massive bull run and is up more than 550%.

While we can't expect that all of these are going to perform like Monsanto, 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 Valero.

Where is the value?
The fate of Valero, a refiner, doesn't lie simply with the price of oil, but the spread between oil and refined products. For that reason, the Achilles' heel of any refiner is when the price of oil rises faster than the price of refined products -- and that's exactly what's happened over the past couple years. That's why the stock charts for all the refiners -- be it Valero, Western Refining (NYSE:WNR), or Alon -- look absolutely terrible.

Of course, to assume that this spread will stay razor thin indefinitely would say that refined petroleum products had essentially lost their value to consumers. And while I will concede that people are getting more energy conscious, I'll show you an army of SUVs on the roads that says a healthy dose of refined gasoline still makes the "necessity" column of most family's budgets.

For investors in Valero, this means buying (or continuing to hold) while the market is pricing in its worst-case scenarios. CAPS All-Star BeautifulPlumage recognized this when he rated Valero an outperformer back in the middle of this month and quipped: "Just in case we still need refined energy after the market meltdown." JBouchard, another CAPS All-Star, gave Valero a thumbs up on the same day and expanded on his valuation thoughts:

Graham formula gives a 60% discount, it currently trades at about 50% of its book value, and pays a reasonable dividend. There's been very little new refineries built in the last decade (or more), and the lead time to bring one online is fairly long.

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.

More CAPS Foolishness:

UnitedHealth Group and Chesapeake Energy are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Take-Two is a Rule Breakers selection. UnitedHealth Group is a Stock Advisor pick,and the Fool owns shares of it. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of UnitedHealth, but does not own shares of any of the other 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.