Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC) had a tough go during the Great Recession, but the company has come back with a vengeance, and new investors are piling into the stock.

Here are the reasons I think investors should consider adding Manulife to their watch lists right now.

1. Focus on growth

During the financial crisis Manulife cut its dividend in half and issued $2.5 billion in equity to shore up its balance sheet. Shareholders cringed as the stock fell from $40 per share to less than $10.

Management spent most of the past six years reducing the company’s risk profile, but the company is now focused on growth.

Last year Manulife went back on the acquisition trail with a $4 billion deal to acquire the Canadian assets of Standard Life Plc. The purchase added 1.4 million customers and instantly made Manulife Canada’s second-largest provider of group retirement services.

Part of the agreement includes a plan for Manulife and Standard Life to cross-sell products in the global market.

In April Manulife announced an exclusive 15-year distribution agreement with Singapore-based DBS Bank Ltd. The US$1.2 billion deal is focused on Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. Asia is a major area of growth for insurance companies, and Manulife will be able to leverage DBS’s large Asian banking franchise to sell its portfolio of insurance and wealth management products.

Manulife also just completed its purchase of New York Life’s Retirement Plan Services business. The acquisition adds US$55.9 billion in plan assets under administration to the company’s U.S.-based John Hancock unit.

2. Strong capital position

Manulife has a rock-solid capital position that ensures the company is more than capable of withstanding an economic shock. The MCCSR ratio is a very healthy 245% and the company’s financial leverage ratio is down to 26.6%.

3. Balanced revenue stream

The company’s Asian operations brought in record wealth sales and very strong insurance sales in Q1 2015. Core earnings for the region jumped 15% compared with the same period last year.

In Canada the Standard Life purchase is already paying off as year-over-year core earnings increased 15%, driven by stronger wealth and insurance sales.

The U.S. operations struggled a bit in Q1 compared with last year. Insurance sales increased by 9%, but overall core earnings fell 7% due to weaker performance on the wealth side.

4. Dividends

Manulife increased its dividend by 19% in 2014 and recently hiked the payout by another 10%. The distribution is still below the level seen before the financial crisis, but management is doing a good job of utilizing capital for growth as well as giving shareholders a piece of the profits.

The annualized distribution of $0.68 per share yields about 2.8%.

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Fool contributor Andrew Walker has no position in any stocks mentioned.