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Look to Buffett's Teacher

Flexsteel Industries (FLXS) trades at 99% of tangible book value (TBV) with an F score of 5. Its rock-solid balance sheet gives it a Z score of over 6. Basset Furniture (BSET) comes in at 98% of TBV with an F score of 6 and a Z score of 3.8. I am something of a skeptic on housing and the consumer but these stocks are safe and cheap.

I have mentioned before that I am not a huge fan of small semiconductor companies. However, Pericom Semiconductor (PSEM) is the second such company to make the list. The company makes chips that are used in networking, as well as in data and telecom applications. Its business has basically been flat because global PC sales and IT spending remains weak.

The company has introduced a range of new products that give it exposure to higher growth markets such as smartphones and cloud computing that management hopes can ignite growth. In the meantime, the stock is cheap, as it is trading at 75% of tangible book value. Most of that is in cash as the company has over $5 a share on cash and liquid securities on the books.

The stock gets and F score of 5 and a Z score of 4.3. The company is buying back stock and, as much as I hate buybacks above book value, I love it at this deep of a discount.

Our final selection is another of those "Gee, I really hate this business" stocks. Rex American Resources (REX) is in the ethanol business. The company has interests in seven ethanol plants and also has a real estate division. The real estate division still owns 11 former retail locations they are attempting to lease or sell. When you add up all the cash property and equity interests in the plants, the company is selling at just 60% of tangible book value.

The stock has an F score of 6 and a Z score of 3.6, so there is a decent margin of safety in the shares. They are also buying back stock at a healthy discount to asset value.

You and I cannot do what Warren Buffett does today. We can, however, follow the investing strategies Benjamin Graham taught him and which became the cornerstone of the vast fortune he controls today.
Tim Melvin is a writer from Stevensville, Maryland, who spent 20 years a stockbroker, the last 15 as a Vice President of Investments with a regional firm in the Mid Atlantic area. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Melvin appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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