Are you familiar with the dynamic duo of Fama and French? No, they didn't star in Grumpier Old Men -- that was Lemmon and Matthau. And they didn't perform "Who's on First?" -- that was Abbott and Costello.

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 130,000 investors.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Change

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

US Bancorp (NYSE:USB)




Corning (NYSE:GLW)




Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)




Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY)




Alcoa (NYSE:AA)




Data from CAPS; Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's; and Yahoo! Finance as of April 9.

Five years ago, Walter Industries (NYSE:WLT) would have made this list with its 1.0 book value multiple. Since then, the stock has gone on a massive run, gaining nearly 300% while the S&P index took a nosedive.

While we can't expect all of these companies to perform like Walter, the CAPS community thinks 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 Alcoa.

Where is the value?
As one of the world's premier aluminum companies, along with Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) and Russia's Rusal, Alcoa's value is in its ability to transform bauxite into aluminum in its various usable forms. Since aluminum is the world's most widely used non-ferrous metal, this puts major producers like Alcoa in a pretty good position -- most of the time, at least.

As Alcoa's first quarter showed, the economic downturn has been taking a big toll on the company. It reported a $479 million loss from continuing operations -- which was worse than expected -- as aluminum prices plummeted. The company has taken some cost-cutting steps to help stem the bleeding, but ultimately it will be a pickup in demand for metals that will mend Alcoa's ill health.

When exactly that might happen is not an easy question to answer. Whether it will happen, though, is an easier one. As one of the stars of the metals world, we can find aluminum in our cars, cans, house siding, solid rocket fuel, street lights, bikes, foil, and on and on. Aluminum may be dazed, but I highly doubt it's down for the count.

But will it beat the market?
Despite the tough times in the aluminum market, Alcoa has held onto a four-star rating on CAPS. Overall, 2,309 of the 2,484 members that have rated the stock have given it a thumbs-up. Most bullish CAPS members seem to like the prospects for metal prices going forward and think Alcoa's recent efficiency moves will set the company up well to outperform when prices turn.

TSIF is one of those bullish members and recently gave Alcoa a thumbs-up with this pitch:

With their cost cuttings they are almost break even with current aluminum prices. ... Signs in China and other infrastructure plays suggest that there could be a turn up in aluminum prices. If/when that occurs Alcoa is much better postitioned to generate cash flow. All in all the recession may have been healthy for Alcoa.

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 130,000 community members know what you think.

More CAPS Foolishness:

Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection and a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned, though he is keeping an eye on some of them through his CAPS portfolio. You can connect with Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. 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.