In today’s market, it’s difficult to find quality, dividend-paying stocks at attractive valuations. Look at the investment section of your local newspaper, and you will quickly see the number of companies with stock prices hitting 52-week highs far outnumber those establishing new lows.
And that may not necessarily be a bad sign. Market breadth, the number of stocks that participate in a rally and contribute to advancing the S&P/TSX Composite Index (TSX:^OSPTX) may be a positive indicator of future gains. Conversely, market prognosticators believe the fewer stocks that drive the market higher, the more fragile the rally and the greater the likelihood of a correction.
Despite the challenge, I set out to find two stocks that meet my investment screen of a dividend yield greater than 4%, trailing price-to-earnings ratio under 12, and a price-to-book ratio of 1.50 or better during the most recent quarter. The price-to-book ratio, or P/B, is a company’s market capitalization divided by the amount of shareholder’s equity. If less than 1.0, the company is selling below its theoretical liquidation value and could be considered a value.
Here are two companies that found their way onto my watch list based upon the above criteria.
One of North America’s largest regional communications providers, Bell Aliant Inc. (TSX: BA) provides voice, data, internet, video and business services to customers across Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and Quebec. Bell Aliant competes with some of the communications heavyweights, including Rogers Communications (TSX: RCI.B)(NYSE: RCI) and Telus (TSX: T)(NYSE: TU).
Here is how Bell Aliant performed against the criteria:
- Dividend yield: 7.07%
- P/E: 9.19
- P/B: 0.83
Bell Aliant announces first quarter results today.
Laurentian Bank of Canada
Headquartered in Montreal, and employing around 4,000 people, Laurentian Bank of Canada (TSX: LB) offers financial services to individuals and to small and medium sized business through a network of approximately 155 branches — including 39 financial services boutiques, 16 brokerage offices, and 35 commercial banking centers.
The bank also provides investment accounts and services to financial advisors and brokers, as well as full-service brokerage services through Laurentian Bank Securities. In addition to Canada’s big five banks, Laurentian Bank of Canada competes with National Bank of Canada (TSX: NA) and Canadian Western Bank (TSX: CWB).
Here is how Laurentian Bank performed against the criteria:
- Dividend yield: 4.31%
- P/E: 11.79
- P/B: 1.07
Laurentian Bank announces second quarter results on June 4.
Foolish bottom line
Using a screen to uncover companies that meet specific investment criteria is a good first step. However, it is just that – a first step. Value investors should conduct additional analysis to determine whether Bell Aliant or Laurentian Bank are suitable investments aligned with their long-term objectives.
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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.