Mispriced opportunities are a value investor's stock-in-trade. Maybe the larger investment community is overly worried about growth or scared about hazy competitive threats on the horizon. Or maybe a business has a lot of moving parts and a large number of investors just throw up their hands.

Whatever the case, insurance broker and risk manager Arthur J. Gallagher (NYSE:AJG) seems to fit the pattern. It probably isn't going to appeal to all readers' tastes, but it suits Mathew Emmert of the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter just fine. And it could yet prove to be a fine pick for the patient holder, too.

Part of the trouble is that fourth-quarter results look pretty messy on the surface. Total revenue rose just 1%, and reported net income was far lower than in the year-ago period. I can already hear those in the growth-and-momentum crowd yelling, "Next!"

But I think you have to look below the surface to get a better sense of what's happening here. First of all, revenue in the "core businesses" actually increased by the mid-single digits. The brokerage business (excluding contingent commissions) experienced a 7% gain, and risk management climbed by 6%.

Second, if you back out charges for the anticipated costs of settling the whole contingent commission mess and some future claims-handling obligations, you get a more favorable view of earnings from continuing operations on the income statement. Performance was still worse than in the year-ago period (down about 15%), but that's not as bad as the reported net income figure would otherwise seem.

While it doesn't seem that Gallagher perpetrated the sorts of abuses that Marsh & McLennan (NYSE:MMC) did, the entire industry has had to deal with the fallout and the resulting changes in operating practices -- including the elimination of contingent commissions. Of course, Gallagher isn't alone -- the same is true to some extent for the likes of AON (NYSE:AOC) and Willis Group (NYSE:WSH) as well.

In the case of Gallagher, though, you have some positive points to fall back on. The company is still the fourth-largest insurance broker, and it's still a necessary business. Gallagher also has a growing risk-management business that's not tied to insurance brokerage. And last but not least, the company pays a good dividend and has a track record of fairly consistent hikes to that payout. So while this isn't a stock for everyone, it might still be a solid performer for patient investors willing to figure out the business.

For more assuring Takes:

Mathew Emmert is always on the lookout for great dividend-payers. Join him on his quest by taking a free, 30-day trial of Income Investor .

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).