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In economically difficult times, it makes sense to scout for investment opportunities with robust business models and sustainable dividends. Despite the uncertainty, many companies have a good ongoing business operation and they are still confident about the economic future. That's the reason why they have raised dividends. Last week, 21 stocks and funds raised dividends of which 14 have a dividend growth of more than 10 percent. The average dividend growth amounts to 19.29 percent. However, I screened the recent dividend growth stocks by real bargains, measured by a P/E ratio of less than 15. These are the detailed results:

1. Ship Finance Intl. (NYSE:SFL) has a market capitalization of $1.30 billion. The company generates revenues of $295.11 million and has a net income of $131.18 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $213.16 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 72.23% (operating margin 55.31% and the net profit margin finally 44.45%).

The total debt representing 65.97% of the company's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 222.90%. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 15.56% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $1.74. Last fiscal year, the company paid $1.55 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 30.0%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 9.43, Price/Sales 4.42 and Price/Book ratio 1.52. Dividend Yield: 9.48%. The beta ratio is 1.44.

2. Permian Basin Royalty (NYSE:PBT) has a market capitalization of $882.30 million. The company generates revenues of $64.58 million and has a net income of $63.41 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $63.41 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 98.18% (operating margin 98.18% and the net profit margin finally 98.18%).

PBT has no long-term debt and serves $6.57 million in cash and short-term investments. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $1.44. Last fiscal year, the company paid $1.36 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 23.6%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 13.16, Price/Sales 13.66 and Price/Book ratio 989.60. Dividend Yield: 7.65%. The beta ratio is 0.61.

3. Cato (NYSE:CATO) has a market capitalization of $855.37 million. The company generates revenues of $931.46 million and has a net income of $64.83 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $120.24 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 12.91% (operating margin 10.76% and the net profit margin finally 6.96%).

Cato has no long-term debt and serves $240.66 million in cash and short-term investments. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 18.22% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $2.20. Last fiscal year, the company paid $0.88 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 8.7%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 13.32, Price/Sales 0.92 and Price/Book ratio 2.33. Dividend Yield: 3.41%. The beta ratio is 0.77.

4. Financial Institutions (NASDAQ:FISI) has a market capitalization of $229.28 million. The company generates revenues of $95.12 million and has a net income of $22.80 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $39.54 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 41.57% (operating margin 32.34% and the net profit margin finally 21.55%).

The total debt representing 5.95% of the company's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 58.64%. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 10.36% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $1.58. Last fiscal year, the company paid $0.47 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 7.7%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 10.51, Price/Sales 2.17 and Price/Book ratio 1.04. Dividend Yield: 3.37%. The beta ratio is 2.11.

5. Span-America Medical Systems (NASDAQ:SPAN) has a market capitalization of $52.17 million. The company generates revenues of $52.58 million and has a net income of $3.70 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $6.28 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 11.95% (operating margin 10.41% and the net profit margin finally 7.04%).

Span-America has no long-term debt and serves $0.65 million in cash and short-term investments. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 16.22% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $1.69. Last fiscal year, the company paid $0.42 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 13.6%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 10.60, Price/Sales 0.99 and Price/Book ratio 2.06. Dividend Yield: 2.80%. The beta ratio is 0.70.

6. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) has a market capitalization of $44.15 billion. The company generates revenues of $127,245.00 million and has a net income of $7,074.00 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $14,661.00 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 11.52% (operating margin 7.61% and the net profit margin finally 5.56%).

The total debt representing 23.65% of the company's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 79.31%. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 17.89% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $2.58. Last fiscal year, the company paid $0.40 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 10.0%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 8.65, Price/Sales 0.35 and Price/Book ratio 1.15. Dividend Yield: 2.36%. The beta ratio is 1.08.

7. Bunge Limited (NYSE:BG) has a market capitalization of $8.91 billion. The company generates revenues of $58,743.00 million and has a net income of $896.00 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $1,685.00 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 2.87% (operating margin 1.60% and the net profit margin finally 1.53%).

The total debt representing 17.53% of the company's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 34.86%. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 8.05% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $5.08. Last fiscal year, the company paid $0.98 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 8.0%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 12.01, Price/Sales 0.15 and Price/Book ratio 0.81. Dividend Yield: 1.77%. The beta ratio is 1.19.

8. W.R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) has a market capitalization of $5.35 billion. The company generates revenues of $5,155.98 million and has a net income of $394.73 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $2,187.10 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 42.42% (operating margin 10.05% and the net profit margin finally 7.66%).

The total debt representing 9.43% of the company's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 43.50%. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 10.24% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $2.87. Last fiscal year, the company paid $0.31 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 12.5%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 13.51, Price/Sales 1.04 and Price/Book ratio 1.33. Dividend Yield: 0.93%. The beta ratio is 0.42.

9. Independence Holding (NYSE:IHC) has a market capitalization of $152.93 million. The company generates revenues of $418.00 million and has a net income of $14.77 million. The firm's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $36.18 million. Because of these figures, the EBITDA margin is 8.66% (operating margin 4.43% and the net profit margin finally 3.53%).

The total debt representing 3.54% of the company's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 18.44%. Last fiscal year, a return on equity of 5.29% was realized. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $0.77. Last fiscal year, the company paid $0.05 in the form of dividends to shareholders. The company announced it would raise dividends by 40.0%.

Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 11.06, Price/Sales 0.37 and Price/Book ratio 0.59. Dividend Yield: 0.82%. The beta ratio is 1.51.

Take a closer look at the full table of the stocks with recent dividend hikes. The average dividend growth amounts to 19.29 percent and the average dividend yield amounts to 2.54 percent. Stocks from the sheet are valuated with a P/E ratio of 15.86. The average P/S ratio is 1.75 and P/B 2.02..

Source: 9 Cheap Stocks With Recent Dividend Hikes