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 115,000 investors.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Change

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Corning (NYSE:GLW)




National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV)












Petrobras (NYSE:PBR)




Data from CAPS; Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's; and Yahoo! Finance as of Nov. 28.

Five years ago, Terra Industries (NYSE:TRA) would have made this list with its book-value multiple of 1.2. The stock has caught quite a tailwind since then, and it’s up over 350% over that period.

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

Where is the value?
The value in Vale for awhile came from both its status as one of the largest mining companies and its location in BRIC member Brazil. The latter half of that equation hasn't been so helpful lately, as Brazilian stocks have plunged along with the rest of the global stock markets -- and in many cases even more. Petrobras, also on the list above, has been stung by dropping oil prices, and its stock has been more than cut in half over the past year. Brazil's two largest banks, Banco Bradesco (NYSE:BBD) and Banco Itau, haven't been hit quite as hard as Petrobras or Vale, but both have fallen significantly over the past 12 months as well. In short, calling Brazil home has been no magic elixir for Vale.

As for the mining side of the picture, Vale is the world's largest supplier of iron ore, as well as a major producer of nickel, copper, potash, and aluminum. That means the decline in prices of materials and the sudden slowdown in the global infrastructure boom has hit the stock hard. Though the company's revenue and profit growth in the third quarter didn't show this impact, investors are clearly expecting it to start registering in quarters to come.

But at the same time, it's Vale's position in the mining market that has CAPS members continuing to stick their thumbs up on this South American stock. CAPS All-Star dbhealy chimed in with his thoughts in mid-October, highlighting the stock’s long-term potential:

i'm not betting against materials in the long run. we probably haven't seen the bottom yet, but i'm not trying to time the market here-just looking for well-diversified, large caps that have tangible asset valuation on their books.

So what do you think? Are the stocks in this group values, or value traps? Log on to CAPS and let the rest of the 115,000-member community know what you think.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.