Are you familiar with the dynamic duo of Fama and French? No, they didn't star in Baby Mama -- that was Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

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 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 Motley Fool CAPS community of more than 130,000 investors.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Change

CAPS Rating (5 stars max.)

CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS)




Noble (NYSE:NE)








Kraft (NYSE:KFT)




Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)




Data from CAPS and Yahoo! Finance as of March 27.

Five years ago, Monsanto would have made this list with its 1.8 book value multiple. Since then, the stock has gone on a run, gaining more than 400% while the S&P index took a nosedive.

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

Where is the value?
Though still well off the highs of last summer, oil prices are starting to show some life again. We may not see the same mad dash for black gold again in the near future, but the world hasn't become less reliant on it as an energy source quite yet. And with most of the easy-to-reach oil being steadily slurped up, companies like Petrobras (NYSE:PBR), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and PEMEX (Mexico's state-owned oil company) are turning to Noble and other offshore drillers to help them get at the oil that's further from the good ol' terra firma.

Noble's value, then, comes from a few different places. First of all, it has the equipment needed to do the dirty work. Perhaps even better, for the company's $5.6 billion in property and equipment, it has just over $400 million in net debt, giving it pretty sound financial footing in tough times.

Aside from equipment, though, Noble also can also brag about its customer relationships. Besides the three already mentioned, Noble also counts ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Shell, and Total among its customers. Tying the value puzzle all together is Noble's experience in the industry. It's got a lot of it, tracing its roots back to a single rig operation in 1921.

But will it beat the market?
Even as oil has come thundering down and other drillers have watched contracts disappear, members of the CAPS community have stuck with Noble. There are more than 1,800 members who think the stock will outperform the rest of the market, versus just 22 who think it will lag behind. Earlier this year, CAPS All-Star MattH42004 became part of that bullish crowd, writing:

Noble has a lot of things going for it, including a very strong balance sheet. With over 500 million in cash and only 180 million in debt coming due over the next five years, Noble clearly has the financial ability to maneuver through the difficult times ahead. Their [fleet] utilization is still strong, and looking into the future, their deepwater rigs will be able to command a premium when oil prices return back to a normal range.

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:

Kraft Foods, Petroleo Brasileiro, and Total are Income Investor recommendations. Pfizer is an Inside Value recommendation. 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, 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.