Five Firms With Fantastic Fundamentals

By Aryeh Katz | November 10, 2009 AAA

Yes, the broad market has risen close to 60% since bottoming in March of this year. And yes, there are stocks that have achieved gains in excess of 700%, 800% and 900% since that time. But know this, too: there are still issues available to bargain hunters. Those who value fundamentals and seek to buy stocks trading at a deep discount to traditional market valuations can help themselves to a bevy of solid companies, five of which are spotlighted below. These are stocks that pay a healthy dividend, sport a relatively low price/earnings ratio, and trade close to, or under, their breakup value.

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Central Vermont Public Services Corp.
(NYSE:CV) is an electricity provider to two thirds of the population of that state. The shares currently trade with an annual dividend yield of 4.80% and a P/E ratio of just 11.5. The stock is up 19% since May, and price to book is a mere 1. Price to sales comes in at 0.66.

CV was recently granted $31 million in federal stimulus money to initiate a pilot program to automate its grid and update the state's metering protocols. Later, an additional $38 million will be advanced, in what will be Vermont's biggest electric capital spending project in history. (For more read How do government-issued stimulus checks affect the economy?.)

Get Paid Now, Pay Later
Advance America, Cash Advance Centers (NYSE:AEA) also offers a reasonable yield, at 4.40% per annum. The shares trade with a multiple of 8.7-times last year's earnings and are higher by 590% since 52-week lows set in March. Despite the rise in price, the company's shares still trade at only 0.53-times last year's sales. Price/book for AEA is 1.78, and the company reported earnings per share of 20 cents this quarter, 43% above analyst's expectations of 14 cents per share.

Educational Development Corporation (Nasdaq:EDUC) is an American publisher of British children's books. The company's shares offer a yearly dividend yield of 8.24% and have a one year, trailing P/E of 10.63. EDUC shares trade with a price/book ratio of 1.24, and at 0.67-times sales. (Learn how to evaluate stocks using financial statements in our Financial Statements Tutorial.)

Internet Behemoth
Earthlink, Inc.
(Nasdaq:ELNK) is an internet service provider that services customers across the U.S. The shares trade with a P/E of just 7 and a yield of 6.7% annually. Earthlink shares trade at just 1.5 times the company's breakup value.

Finally, Park National Corporation (AMEX:PRK), a bank holding company, offers shareholders a 6.67% annual yield and a P/E ratio of 12.4. Price to Book on Park National is 1.4.

The Bottom Line
Even after seven straight months of the markets rising, there are still pockets of value to be found. Investors who seek solid fundamentals could do a lot worse than investing in the above listed issues.

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