"Under the Radar" uncovers little-known companies worthy of investors' consideration. Check in at 5 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning to find out about stocks that tend to beat their bigger brethren. BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The manufacturing and retail industries are showing signs of revival. As a result, dry-bulk shippers are getting some buzz. As shipping rates plummeted during the recession, investors aggressively sold the stocks. But hopes of a recovery are whetting their appetites. The Baltic Dry Index, a gauge of worldwide shipping prices and demand, began a downward trend in June. It then flattened and began creeping up on Aug. 25. DryShips ( DRYS), Navios Maritime ( NM) and Excel Maritime ( EXM) have since been getting more attention than usual. But all three succumbed to quarterly net losses over the past year and receive "sell" ratings from our proprietary model. Here is a "buy"-rated shipper that retained profitability during the recession, trades at a discount to its peers and pays a fat dividend. International Shipholding Corp. ( ISH) isn't immune to the recession, but is faring better than its rivals. Second-quarter net income fell 41% to $11 million, but revenue climbed 63% to $100 million. Excluding a $15 million gain from the sale of a carrier in last year's second quarter, earnings rose almost four-fold. The company's gross margin widened from 20% to 23%, and its operating margin stretched from 4% to 13%, helped by a 4% reduction in general and administrative expenses. The company has a diversified fleet of carriers, including eight car/truck carriers that transport Honda ( HMC), Hyundai and Toyota ( TM) automobiles. The balance sheet is reassuring. International Shipholding increased its cash balance 242% to $70 million since the year-earlier period. A quick ratio of 2.2 demonstrates ample liquidity. Just $139 million of debt and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.6 indicate conservative leverage.
International Shipholding has advanced 14% this year, outpacing the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but underperforming the S&P 500 Index. The shares pay a 6.9% dividend yield, but the distributions were recently initiated. A payout ratio of 40% indicates that the dividend has room for growth. At a price-to-earnings ratio of 6, the stock trades at a vast discount to the market and is 61% cheaper than its marine peers. We give the company a financial-strength score of 4.9 out of 10, less than the "buy"-list average of 7.1, due to inconsistent earnings growth. -- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.