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Recent economic shocks have seen many companies fall into disfavor with investors, either due to their poor fundamentals, falling earnings or exposure to industries in which investors have lost confidence. This has created a feast for bargain-hunting investors with a substantial number of companies trading at deep discounts to their book value per share. In this article, I have reviewed five stocks that are all trading, at the time of writing, at a discount to their book value. The aim is to find, through the application of my unique analysis, those that are worthwhile investments. I have found four stocks: MetLife (NYSE:MET), Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA), Brookfield Office Properties (NYSE:BPO) and MFA Financial (NYSE:MFA) that I believe warrant further investigation as value investment opportunities and one, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), that doesn't. As always, use my analysis as a starting point for conducting your own due diligence prior to investing.

MetLife Inc

MetLife is the largest listed US life insurer by market cap, $38 billion. The company provides insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, primarily in the United States, Japan, Latin America, the Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. It has a 52 week trading range of $25.61 to $48.72, and its price since the start of 2011 has dropped by 19% to around $36. At its current trading price, it has a price to earnings ratio of 7.

MetLife is currently trading at around a 37% discount to its book value per share of $57.44, and is delivering a return on equity of 11%, leading me to believe that it presents as a compelling value investment. In order to confirm this, I will examine the company's recent performance and compare it to its competitors.

Firstly, MetLife's financial position has improved during the third quarter 2011, with earnings rising by 20% to $20.5 billion and net income by a massive 190% to $3.6 billion. MetLife's balance sheet strengthened during this period, with a 4% rise in cash and cash equivalents to $10 billion, and a 6% drop in long-term debt to $60 billion. However, MetLife has recently announced that it will exit the mortgage business and close down its mortgage originations unit, which is expected to have a cost of $90 million and impacting its future cash position.

Metlife also compares favorably to its competitors. Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) has a market cap of $26 billion, and is down 7% since the start of 2011, trading at around $55, with a price to earnings ratio of 9. This price represents a 30% discount on its book value per share of $78.11 and it has a return on equity of 9%.

Genworth Financial (OTC:GMICF) has a market cap of $3.8 billion and is down 43% since the start of 2011, trading at around $8. This is a discount of 77% on its book value per share of $35.39, and it has a return on equity of -1%. MetLife is delivering a superior return on equity to both competitors and is trading at a deeper discount to Prudential Financial, but at a shallower discount to Genworth Financial.

MetLife's increased future earnings and income growth potential is also apparent when we consider that it has an exceptionally low PEG ratio of 0.14, which bodes well for future earnings growth. When this is considered in conjunction with a strong balance sheet that has a relatively conservative debt to equity ratio of 0.73, it is clear that MetLife is well positioned to grow earnings as the economy improves.

Another attractive reason for buying MetLife is that despite trading at a discount to its book value, the company is paying a dividend of 74 cents per share, which equates to a handy dividend yield of 2%. Furthermore, when considering MetLife's earnings yield of 14%, which is more than six times current ten year Treasury bond yields, it is clear that the stock has been unfairly valued by the market.

For all of these reasons, I don't believe that MetLife will see any further significant price drops, and at its current price, it is a compelling value investment opportunity. I would expect MetLife, on the basis of its strong fundamentals, to rise in value, and it is therefore, it is a solid candidate for further research and analysis.

Viacom Inc

Viacom, with a market cap of $25 billion, is the fourth largest entertainment and cable TV content company in the US. It connects with audiences through compelling content on television, motion picture, Internet and mobile platforms through various entertainment brands both in the US and internationally. It has a 52 week trading range of $44.10 to $60.90, and it has seen its price rise by 17% since the start of 2011, to be currently trading at around $53. At its current price, it has a price to earnings ratio of 15.

Viacom is a solid value investment candidate with a current trading price of $53, which is a 68% discount to its book value per share of $167.92, and a return on equity of 24%. In order to confirm this, I will examine the company's recent performance and review some of its competitors.

For the third quarter 2011, Viacom reported an 8% increase in earnings to $4 billion, with net income remaining steady at around $576 million. During this period, its balance sheet strengthened with cash and cash equivalents rising by 7% to $1 billion, although long-term debt rose by 6% to $7 billion.

In comparison to its competitors, Viacom shapes up quite well as a value investment opportunity. Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) has a market cap of $21 billion and is down 1% since the start of 2011, trading at around $65 with a price to earnings ratio of 15. It is trading at a 176% premium to its book value per share of $23.54, with a return on equity of 18%.

TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) has a market cap of $1.23 billion, and is up 16% since the start of 2011, trading at around $10, with a price to earnings ratio of 20. It is trading at a 308% premium to its book value per share of $2.45, with a return on equity of 25%. Both of Viacom's competitors are trading at substantial premiums to their book values, yet with price to earnings ratios and returns on equity similar to Viacom.

Viacom's future growth prospects are also quite strong, as it has a solid balance sheet with a conservative debt to equity ratio of 0.85 and a profit margin of 14.21%, indicating the company is well-positioned to capitalize on any uplift in the economy. I also believe a further indicator of Viacom being undervalued by the market, is its earnings yield of 7.6%, which is more than double current ten year Treasury bond yields. For all of these reasons, I believe that Viacom is an excellent value investment opportunity that is significantly undervalued by the market, and is worthy of further investigation and analysis.

Brookfield Office Properties Inc

Brookfield is the largest property management company in the US by market cap of $8 billion. The company owns, develops and manages commercial properties, as well as providing ancillary real estate service businesses, such as tenant service and amenities. The firm invests in North American real estate markets with a focus on cities, including New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Toronto, Calgary, Denver and Minneapolis. It has a 52 week trading range of $12.80 to $20.07, and since the start of 2011, its price is down by 6%, and is trading at around $16, with a price to earnings ratio of 4.

At its current price, Brookfield's is trading at a 20% discount to its book value per share of $20.41, while delivering a return on equity of 25%. This I believe makes it a solid value investment opportunity and a candidate for further investigation of its performance and how it compares to its competitors.

For third quarter 2011, Brookfield reported a massive 50% rise in earnings to $1 billion, but reported a 28% drop in net income to $415 million. For this period it also strengthened its balance sheet with cash, and cash equivalents rising by a massive 106% to $358 million, although long-term debt rose by 64% to $10.61 billion.

In comparison to its competitors, Brookfield presents as a solid value investment opportunity. CBRE (NYSE:CBG), the second largest property manager by market cap of $5.7 billion, is down 18% since the start of 2011, trading at around $17, with a price to earnings ratio of 22. With a book value per share of $4.18, it is trading at a 307% premium to its book value, with a return on equity of 20%. Jones Lang Lasalle (NYSE:JLL), the fourth largest property manager by market cap of $3 billion, is down 21% since the start of 2011 and is trading at around $67. It is trading at a 44% premium to its book value per share of $37.79. Brookfield's is trading at a lower discount to book value than both CBRE and Jones Lang LaSalle but with a superior return on equity to both.

Brookfield has a solid balance sheet indicated by its very conservative debt to equity ratio of 0.94, which when coupled with its increased cash position means it is well positioned to capitalize on any future growth opportunities. Furthermore, the company has solid future growth prospects when its low PEG ratio of 0.02 is considered. Despite trading at a discount to its book value Brookfield's still pays a dividend of 56 cents per share, which is an attractive yield of 3.5%. I further believe that the company is undervalued by the market as its earnings yield of 25%, is more than ten times current ten year Treasury bond yields, is considered.

For all of these reasons, I believe that Brookfield's is unfairly valued by the market, and at current prices, represents a solid value investment opportunity that should rise in value. Accordingly, I have no hesitation recommending the company as a candidate for further investigation and analysis.

MFA Financial Inc

MFA Financial is the seventh largest listed diversified REIT in the United States by market cap of $2.5 billion. It invests in residential agency and non-agency mortgage-backed securities that are secured by hybrid mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages, and longer term fixed-rate mortgages. Due to its structure, MFA Financial must distribute at least 90% of its annual taxable income to its stockholders. It has a 52 week trading range of $6.23 to $8.64, and for the year it is up by 1.5% trading at around $7 with a price to earnings ratio of 8.

MFA Financial has a book value per share of $7.42, and at its current price, is trading at a discount of 6% to its book value with a return on equity of 12%. This I believe makes it a solid value investment opportunity and a candidate for further investigation of its performance and how it compares to its competitors.

For the third quarter 2011, MFA Financial reported a 5% increase in earnings to $131 million and a 5.5% rise in net income to $82 million. During this period, its balance sheet weakened with cash and cash equivalents dropping by a massive 20% to $9 billion and long-term debt rising by 7.5% to $135 million.

In comparison to its competitors, MFA Financial is a solid value investment opportunity. Public Storage (NYSE:PSA) the largest diversified REIT by market cap of $23 billion, is up 35% since the start of 2011, trading at around $133 with a price to earnings ratio of 44. It is trading at a 344% premium to its book value per share of $30.43 with a return on equity of 9%. Annaly Capital Management (NYSE:NLY) the second largest diversified REIT by market cap of $16 billion, is up 3% since the start of 2011, trading at around $16 with a price to earnings ratio of 12. It is trading at a 1.5% premium to its book value per share of $16.24, with a return on equity of 9%.

When compared to Public Storage, MFA Financial is trading at a discount to its book value per share, rather than at a large premium and has a superior return on equity. In comparison to Annaly, MFA Financial is trading at a discount to its book value per share, rather than at a premium and is also delivering a superior return on equity.

MFA Financial is generating a solid profit margin of 62%, which means that it should be able to capitalize on any uplift in the economy, translating increased earnings into a healthy profit. It also pays a dividend of $1 per share, which is a highly attractive dividend yield of 14.4% and the second highest in its industry. I also believe that another indicator of MFA Financial being unfairly valued is its earnings yield of 13%, which is more than four times the current ten year Treasury bond yield.

For all of these reasons, I believe that MFA Financial, at current price, is undervalued by the market, and is a solid value investment opportunity that warrants further investigation and analysis.

Nokia Corporation

Nokia manufactures and sells mobile devices, and provides Internet and digital mapping and navigation services worldwide. It has a market cap of $20 billion, a 52 week trading range of $4.82 to $11.75, and for the year to date, has dropped 47% in value to be trading at around $5.

For the third quarter 2011, Nokia's earnings dropped by 3% to $9 billion, but net income rose by 82% to -$68 million. I noted that Nokia could lose market share to Samsung, which, so far, is turning out to be correct. For the same period, its balance sheet strengthened, with cash and cash equivalents rising by 15% to $11 billion, although long-term debt rose by 2% to $4.2 billion.

Nokia has a book value per share of $5.55, and at current prices, it is trading at a 5% discount to its book value per share. On initial appearances, this makes Nokia appear as an attractive value investment with assets exceeding liabilities, but on deeper analysis, I don't believe that Nokia is that attractive.

First, it has a return on equity of 4%, which for a stock trading at a discount to its book value, indicates further possible issues with the company and its balance sheet valuation. Secondly, it has a profit margin of -0.8%, and this indicates that it is experiencing difficulty converting earnings to net income. Thirdly, the company has an earnings yield of 4%, which when compared to current ten year Treasury bond yields, indicates that the company is moderately overvalued at current prices, as it doesn't factor in an appropriate risk premium above the risk free rate of return. Finally, it has an aggressive price to earnings ratio of 23, which further confirms that company is overvalued at its current price.

Nokia is also being substantially outperformed by its competitors with both LM Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) having superior returns on equity of 11% and 15% respectively, as well as superior profit margins of 7% and 6% respectively.

For all of these reasons, despite Nokia trading at a discount to its book value, I don't believe that it is undervalued at current prices. In fact, based on my analysis, I believe that the stock may continue to fall in value. Therefore, I do not believe that the company warrants further investigation or research.

Source: 4 Value Stocks Worth Buying and 1 To Avoid