Are you familiar with the dynamic duo of Fama and French? No, they didn't star in Baby Mama -- that was Fey and Poehler. And they didn't sing "Icky Thump" -- that was Jack and Meg White.

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. (You can run the same screen on the CAPS screener). To focus on high-quality stocks, I've cross-referenced these against ratings in our CAPS community of more than 125,000 investors.


Book Value


CAPS Rating
(5 stars max.)

Vimpel-Communications (NYSE:VIP)








Quanta Services (NYSE:PWR)




Chevron (NYSE:CVX)








Data from CAPS, Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Yahoo! Finance as of Feb. 12.

Five years ago, Terra Industries (NYSE:TRA) would have made this list with its 1.4 book value multiple. Since then, the stock has kicked some major butt, gaining 390% while the S&P index took a nosedive.

While we can't expect that all of these candidates will perform like Terra, the CAPS community thinks that this list offers good choices for value stocks. With that I mind, I thought I'd dig in a little further on BP.

Where is the value?
It probably won't shock you to hear that BP's primary value is in its production of fossil-fuel-based energy products. The company is a fully integrated oil company doing the whole shebang, from finding and extracting crude oil to delivering a final, refined product to customers. Though this seemed like the business to be in during the first half of 2008, crashing oil prices in the back half of the year have put a big crimp on the industry, leading both BP and its larger European rival Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) to report fourth-quarter losses.

While the bulk of BP's value comes from its fossil fuel interests, the company has been making a name for itself over the past few years as a player in the burgeoning alternative-energy industry. This piece of the business hasn't been much of a contributor financially, and it may feel the pinch of lower oil and natural gas prices. However, it has helped to put some shine back on the BP brand, which had taken some big hits from a 2005 refinery explosion in Texas and a 2006 oil spill in Alaska. And protecting the brand is a good idea for BP, since brand specialist Interbrand considers it one of the top 100 global brands.

But will it beat the market?
Over 2,500 CAPS members seem to think that BP will top the rest of the market. And with only 131 members that think it will be a laggard, the stock has found itself with a shiny five star rating. Most of the recent BP bulls on CAPS have honed in on two major issues: BP's dividend and the potential for oil to bounce back from the current depths.

directd, a CAPS All-Star as well as a BP believer, gave a thumbs up at the end of January, saying:

Oil companies have surprised many analysts with their strong earnings in a truly abysmal period. They are still flooded with cash from the oil at 150 days so dividends are secure...and as far as BP is concerned can't get a much better dividend than that!

Short term, long term, doesn't matter. I'd say go long as there is far more upside than downside to oil at this level. The fast-growing economies of China, India and Brazil have only begun to show what they can do and the energy needs there will be enormous.

Ride oil up and enjoy your dividend with this winner!

So what do you think? Are the stocks in this group values, or value traps? Log onto CAPS and let the rest of the 125,000 member community know what you think.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned, though he is keeping an eye on some of them through his CAPS portfolio. 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.