Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. However, when you're an income investor, your primary focus is generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments.
While cash flow can come from bond interest or interest from other types of investments, income investors hone in on dividends. A dividend is that coveted distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders, and investors often view it by its dividend yield, a metric that measures the dividend as a percent of the current stock price. Many academic studies show that dividends account for significant portions of long-term returns, with dividend contributions exceeding one-third of total returns in many cases.
Alliant Energy in Focus
Alliant Energy (LNT - Free Report) is headquartered in Madison, and is in the Utilities sector. The stock has seen a price change of -0.31% since the start of the year. The electric and gas utility parent company is paying out a dividend of $0.38 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 2.79% compared to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 3.3% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.59%.
In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.52 is up 7% from last year. In the past five-year period, Alliant Energy has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 6.63%. Looking ahead, future dividend growth will be dependent on earnings growth and payout ratio, which is the proportion of a company's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Alliant Energy's current payout ratio is 58%. This means it paid out 58% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Earnings growth looks solid for LNT for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 is $2.44 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 5.63%.
Investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons, from tax advantages and decreasing overall portfolio risk to considerably improving stock investing profits. But, not every company offers a quarterly payout.
High-growth firms or tech start-ups, for example, rarely provide their shareholders a dividend, while larger, more established companies that have more secure profits are often seen as the best dividend options. During periods of rising interest rates, income investors must be mindful that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle. That said, they can take comfort from the fact that LNT is not only an attractive dividend play, but also represents a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).