The Best Value Stocks

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    “Growth and value investing are joined at the hip.”

    You think that’s crazy? Tell Warren Buffett. He’s the one who said it, not me.

    But, of course, I think he’s right. I’m writing today because the largely semantic differences between value and growth often get lost, even here at The Motley Fool.

    Head to head
    That’s because there is a temptation to equate growth investing with speculation, as fellow Fool Chuck Saletta did.

    But that’s just wrong. Real growth investors don’t bet on companies whose “sky-high” expectations make it nearly impossible to produce meaningful returns. More often, gurus like Michael Lippert of Baron iOpportunity invest in firms whose superior growth characteristics haven’t been fully recognized or rewarded by the stock market.

    Value investors, on the other hand, look for stocks that trade for less than their intrinsic value, or stocks that the market has unfairly undervalued. Often, these firms are experiencing problems that investors believe to be temporary.

    Both strategies, although seemingly different on the surface, operate on the premise that the market has mispriced a stock.

    The obvious won’t help you
    History proves that you’ll need more than math to discern what, exactly, is mispriced. Take the market’s 10 best stocks. Asta Funding (Nasdaq: ASFI  ) didn’t have any earnings to report in 1998. Neither did Celgene (Nasdaq: CELG  ) . Investors longing for a below-market P/E would have missed out on the 82-bagger and 67-bagger, respectively, to come.

    The very best value stocks
    Stock market myth says that only value investors zig as others zag. Hogwash. Lippert owns shares of CME Group (NYSE: CME  ) , Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) , and Blue Nile (Nasdaq: NILE  ) , none of which look “cheap” by the numbers. Yet Lippert, by investing where others won’t, has doubled the return of the S&P 500 since taking over iOpportunity two years ago.

    David Gardner can claim similar success. And that’s in spite of the current market malaise. Eleven stocks in David’s Motley Fool Rule Breakers portfolio have at least doubled, including BioMarin Pharmaceutical (Nasdaq: BMRN  ) . No surprises there. It was misunderstood. It was cheap relative to its growth potential. In short: It was a value stock.

    Rules breaking, fortunes in the making
    So, please, don’t make the mistake of confusing growth investing with speculation. You’ll miss out on just about all of the market’s best value stocks — the misunderstood multibaggers in the making — if you do.

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