Manulife Financial Corp (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC) had a rough go during the Great Recession, but things are looking a lot better these days, and investors are starting to warm up to the name again.

Here’s why.

1. Acquisitions and partnerships

Manulife has secured a number of deals recently that could translate into strong cash flow growth.

Last year Manulife acquired the Canadian assets of Standard Life Plc for $4 billion. The deal added 1.4 million new customers and vaulted the company into a leadership position in the Quebec market, where it had previously struggled to make any headway.

Manulife and Standard Life have also agreed to cross-sell products to their global customers. This is an important development because it provides Manulife with a cost-effective way to enter growing markets where it doesn’t already have a presence.

In April Manulife signed a 15-year deal with Singapore-based DBS Bank Ltd. to secure the exclusive rights to sell insurance and wealth management products to DBS customers located all over Asia.

Manulife also just closed a deal in the U.S. to acquire the Retirement Plan Services division of New York Life. The agreement adds $56 billion in assets under management to Manulife’s John Hancock group based in the United States.

2. Earnings

Core earnings in Q2 2015 rose by 29%. The company is seeing strong growth in the Asian operations, where insurance sales saw a year-over-year jump of 36% in the second quarter. New wealth and asset management gross flows increased by US$5.2 billion.

One point of concern was the reported 36% drop in net income linked to a $362 million hit the company took as a result of an interest rate move. This should be a one-off hiccup, but investors might want to pay close attention to the Q3 numbers to see if there are any more surprises.

3. Dividend growth

Manulife upset a lot of investors during the financial crisis when it cut its dividend by 50% to help stabilize the balance sheet.

Last year the company started increasing the quarterly payout again, moving it up 19% to $0.155 per share. In April management increased the dividend to $0.17, and investors could see the trend continue as the new assets start contributing more cash flow.

The dividend currently yields 3.4%.

4. Valuation

Manulife only trades at 10 times forward earnings. This is a bit of a surprise considering the stock has rallied nearly 50% over the past five years.

Should you buy?

The company has come a long way in its efforts to rebuild investor support. Once the U.S. starts to increase interest rates, new investors could flow into the insurance sector because higher rates are generally positive for insurance companies.

The valuation is in line with the banks right now and the dividend growth could actually outpace the Big Five in the coming years. However, I would wait for another quarter or two of results to come out before buying the stock.

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