Though value investors have been some of the most successful investors out there, finding good stocks at bargain prices is far from easy. Though markets aren't as efficient as some university professors may want to tell you, they generally do a pretty good job pricing stocks. So while there are good deals out there, you're going to have to break a bit of a mental sweat if you want to make sure that you're investing in the stock equivalent of Brad Pitt, not Kato Kaelin.

Fortunately for us, in the search for stock market values, we have the 165,000-plus members of The Motley Fool's CAPS community voting on which stocks are true stars and which are just posers. To gather some ideas, I've dug up a handful of companies valued at no more than twice their book value -- a measure often used by value investors.


Book Value Multiple

1-Year Stock Performance

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Eagle Bulk Shipping (Nasdaq: EGLE)




DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS)




Toyota (NYSE: TM)




Pfizer (NYSE: PFE)




Kohl's (NYSE: KSS)




Source: Yahoo! Finance and CAPS as of May 25.

As you can see, though these stocks all carry value-like multiples, the CAPS community obviously doesn't think that all are worthy of your investment dollars.

No twinkle in these stars
DryShips is a dry-bulk shipping and oil drilling company that has long been getting cross-eyed looks from Fools. And the tide of opinion hasn't exactly been changing recently.

The company recently posted a disappointing first quarter because a drop in drilling revenue offset better performance in its dry bulk unit. It had hoped to spin off a minority stake in its drilling segment in an IPO, but the timing on that is a bit hazy now because the company has had trouble getting contracts for some of its drill ships and the Gulf of Mexico disaster has cast a pall over the drilling industry.

Even in light of the disappointing first quarter and question marks about the drilling segment, DryShips' low valuation may be tempting. But with questionable management, a heavy debt load, and a bad habit of diluting shareholders, it's not too surprising that this stock hasn't made it to the top tiers in CAPS.

And while CAPS members aren't wild about DryShips, they've given even less support to Toyota and Kohl's. Like many other automakers, revenue and profits plunged at Toyota thanks to the global recession. In a nasty twist for the company, just as the economy was starting to show some signs of life, it got hammered by recalls and safety issues. Now the company faces the much tougher challenge of trying to pull its image back out of the trash can.

While Toyota may have dug its own grave, it seems a bit surprising to me that Kohl's has attracted so many thumbs down on CAPS. The retailer actually held up quite well during the recession and seems to be keeping it up. In the first quarter, the company's same-store sales jumped 7.4%, and management raised its guidance for the full year.

The stock's valuation may not be overly cheap, but it is below its historical trading range. I wouldn't call Kohl's a five-star pick, but I do think that it definitely deserves more than its two stars.

A five-star is born!
Now that we've left the riffraff behind, we can move on to a stock that CAPS members think is worthwhile: Pfizer.

When I think of the major pharma companies these days, I can't help but think about patent expirations. Maybe I sound like a broken record, but it's not without reason: The end of patent protection for blockbuster drugs is likely the No. 1 issue facing pharma companies.

Pfizer will lose its patent on two of its drugs in 2010: Aricept and Lipitor. Last year, the two brought in a combined $11.9 billion in revenue. Pfizer isn't alone. Fellow pharma giant Merck (NYSE: MRK) will bid adieu to its patents on Cozaar and Hyzaar this year, and will do the same with Singulair in 2012. Cozaar and Hyzaar combined for $3.6 billion in revenue in 2009, while Singulair pulled in $4.7 billion.

But as my fellow Fool Brian Orelli pointed out recently, the pharma folks aren't taking this sitting down. Instead, they're investing big money in drug trials that could pay off with huge, new blockbuster drugs. Though Brian also noted that Pfizer in particular has had some high-profile blowups when it comes to these big trials, CAPS members seem convinced that the company's history of success and healthy cash reserves will help its stock outrun the rest of the market.

But even with a strong four-star rating, Pfizer didn't have enough to beat out this week's top value stock: Eagle Bulk Shipping.

Though CAPS members have shied away from fellow shipper DryShips, they've flocked to Eagle Bulk Shipping. And if you're looking for an aggressive way to play the global economic recovery, Eagle Bulk Shipping may be exactly what you're looking for.

When the company reported its first-quarter earnings earlier this month, it showed revenue down just slightly year over year, but its net income was off a cool 73%. What's important to understand, though, is why net income was down so much. Since last year, both depreciation and interest expense have gone up significantly as Eagle Bulk Shipping has bulked up its fleet. During the first quarter alone, the company took delivery of six new ships.

Eagle Bulk Shipping managed to keep its fleet utilization rate at 99% in the first quarter, but the big question is whether the company will be able to continue to find suitable contracts for all of its ships. If the current market downturn is only a blip in a larger economic recovery, that would bode well for Eagle because its major customers include mining giant BHP Billiton and agricultural commodities player Bunge, which, in turn, would help keep Eagle Bulk Shipping's business afloat (bad pun intended).

For investors, the bargain-basement valuation could mean big gains ahead if the economy does continue to strengthen.

Make your vote count!
Do you agree that Eagle Bulk Shipping could be America's next top value stock? Click over to CAPS and let the rest of the community know what you think. And while you're there, you can log your vote for the other stocks that you think should be in the running.

What's better than an outperformer? An outperformer that nobody else knows about.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. 

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy -- which does nothing but monitor disclosures -- knows that boring can be beautiful.