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Are You Looking for a High-Growth Dividend Stock? Essential Utilities (WTRG) Could Be a Great Choice

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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.

Cash flow can come from bond interest, interest from other types of investments, and of course, 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.

Essential Utilities in Focus

Essential Utilities (WTRG - Free Report) is headquartered in Bryn Mawr, and is in the Utilities sector. The stock has seen a price change of -1.18% since the start of the year. The water utility is paying out a dividend of $0.25 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 2.15% compared to the Utility - Water Supply industry's yield of 1.48% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.29%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1 is up 3.1% from last year. In the past five-year period, Essential Utilities has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 7.07%. Any future dividend growth will depend on both earnings growth and the company's payout ratio; a payout ratio is the proportion of a firm's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Right now, Essential Utilities's payout ratio is 59%, which means it paid out 59% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for WTRG for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 is $1.67 per share, with earnings expected to increase 5.70% from the year ago period.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons, from tax advantages and decreasing overall portfolio risk to considerably improving stock investing profits. However, not all companies offer 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. Income investors have to be mindful of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, WTRG presents a compelling investment opportunity; it's not only an attractive dividend play, but the stock also boasts a strong Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).


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