Digging into the balance sheet isn't always the first order of business for investors. The income statement is much easier to relate to. The income statement will give you a snapshot of earnings and revenue, but if stocks represent a partial ownership in that company why not look into what portion you actually own? Let's take a look at buying a stock based on the portion of the company you have a claim on, or book value per share. Then we will dig deeper into each of these price to book value leaders.

IN PICTURES: 10 Tips For The Successful Long-Term Investor

Here are five book value bargains with prices under the book value per share.

Company Price To Book Market Cap
Annaly Capital Management (NYSE:NLY) 1.00 $6.47B
American Oriental Bioengineering (NYSE:AOB) 0.83 $325M
Boise Inc. (NYSE:BZ) 0.89 $533M
Partner Re Ltd (NYSE:PRE) 0.86 $6.47B
Platinum Underwriters Holdings LTD (NYSE:PTP) 0.80 $290M

Property and Casualty

This industry is based on reducing personal risk, but it could actually do the opposite to the hasty investor. The property and casualty industry has seen less that stellar sales results last year, recording the largest drop in 5 years. Although sales were low, profitability could be back on the radar with low payouts and the stock market rally. RLI Corp. (NYSE:RLI) reported first quarter 2010 results on April 15. It showed a decent combined ratio of 89.1 and operating earnings of 94 cents per share compared to $1.03 per share a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting net income of 96 cents, below the actual diluted earnings per share of $1.13. Price to book increased from 1.37 to 1.46 since December of 2009 - not great but earnings potential might be the bigger story with RLI Corp.

Partner Re Ltd (NYSE:PRE) has a better price to book ratio, sitting at 0.86, and is set to announce earnings on May 6. Analysts expect a loss of 77 cents per share. Platinum Underwriters Holdings LTD (NYSE:PTP) is actually the best price to book on our list with 0.80 and set to release on April 21. Analysts expect a loss of 19 cents but these estimates have dipped from 36 cents over the last 30 days.

American Oriental Bioengineering (NYSE:AOB) has a smaller market cap than what you might be used to and a beta of 1.66, so it will swing a bit more than larger companies. Earnings out one month ago were decent, showing a TTM P/E of 7.8. In the last 3 months, the stock has seen some support around the $4.10 mark but has dipped as low as $3.72 in the last 52 weeks. (Learn more in our Technical Analysis Tutorial)

Boise Inc. (NYSE:BZ) focuses on the paper and pulp industry and has its headquarters in Boise Idaho. Lumber prices are hitting their highest levels in three years which is good for pulp mill workers, but might put a damper on paper profits. Packaging Corp. of America's (NYSE:PKG) earnings fell 25% from 19 cents per share in their last quarter to 25 cents per share in the same quarter last year. Taking out extraordinary items, they earned 12 cents per share. This shows the difficulty of the paper industry given that they had increased revenues.

Book Ends
Book value will not tell you the entire story, especially in a rally like we have been seeing. You need strong management, competitive advantage and earning potential on a needed product. These are all types of intangibles that financial reports just don't have a category for. What book value will do is let you sleep a bit easier knowing your investment bought you the most tangible portion of the company per dollar spent. In the end, exposure to the potential in the company - and your piece of that potentially profitable pie - is what you are looking for.

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