H&R Block (NYSE: HRB), the tax prep firm, had a so-so fiscal 2011, and that, oddly enough, is cause for significant celebration. The company has faced so many challenges, many of its own making, as we wrote last December, that merely holding its own ought to be encouragement to value investors with strong stomachs.

Sexy Block ain't, tiny compared to the market cap of Apple and sluggish next to the revenue growth of Netflix. But unlike those two and other market favorites, Block is cheap.

Block, after suffering declines in recent years, in the fiscal year ended April 30 managed to prepare more tax returns -- and capture an increased share of the U.S. tax prep business -- with 24.5 million returns handled. True, for the roughly two thirds of U.S. returns that were prepared at Block's retail locations (the remainder are handled digitally), price slipped 3.3% to $182.96 vs. $189.25 a year earlier. "We also reversed years of market share declines and have built a solid pipeline of new and younger clients," Block's new CEO, former eBay executive William C. Cobb, said last month. "All of this positions us well for the future."

Maintaining its business was all the more remarkable because of limits placed on Block's ability to issue refund anticipation loans, which in recent years had been a big draw as cash-poor consumers sought immediate access to sums owed them by Uncle Sam. And each year Block goes without a new round of litigation liabilities is a plus, as well (see earlier YCharts column linked above). Block should be able to return to being a company that pumps out roughly half a billion dollars in net income a year; one that uses excess cash to buy in shares and thus boost EPS; and one that steadily reduces its risk profile, giving greater certainly to investors.

Reduced investor skepticism is apparent since YCharts encouraged value investors to look at Block shares about six months ago. The stock has rallied and gained a higher multiple. Yet YCharts Pro still views the stock as attractive and undervalued.

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H&R Block Price Stock Chart by YCharts

Even after the stock's advance, the dividend yield is nearly 4%.

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H&R Block Dividend Stock Chart by YCharts

And there would appear to be room for Block to increase the payout as stabilized business conditions make its earnings power less iffy. Block pays $0.15 a quarter and its fiscal year 2011 net income, fully diluted, was $1.31.

Block is among a handful of companies spotlighted by YCharts in recent months -- RadioShack (NYSE: RSH) and Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI) among them -- with durable franchises that have survived daunting business challenges. They earn piles of money and get little love from growth-obsessed investors. Unloved often means value. If you didn't last December, check out H&R Block.

Jeff Bailey is an editor for the YCharts Pro Investor Service which includes professional stock charts, stock ratings and portfolio strategies.

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