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Why Essa Bancorp (ESSA) is a Top Dividend Stock for Your Portfolio

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All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.

While cash flow can come from bond interest or interest from other types of investments, income investors hone in on dividends. A dividend is the distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders; it's often viewed by its dividend yield, a metric that measures a 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.

Essa Bancorp in Focus

Based in Stroudsburg, Essa Bancorp (ESSA - Free Report) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 8.6%. Currently paying a dividend of $0.12 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.95%. In comparison, the Financial - Savings and Loan industry's yield is 2.35%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.35%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.48 is up 9.1% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Essa Bancorp has increased its dividend 3 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 6.26%. 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. Essa Bancorp's current payout ratio is 31%, meaning it paid out 31% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

ESSA is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 is $1.57 per share, with earnings expected to increase 12.95% from the year ago period.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for many reasons; they greatly improve stock investing profits, decrease overall portfolio risk, and carry tax advantages, among others. However, not all companies offer a quarterly payout.

Big, established firms that have more secure profits are often seen as the best dividend options, but it's fairly uncommon to see high-growth businesses or tech start-ups offer their stockholders a dividend. Income investors must be conscious of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, ESSA is a compelling investment opportunity. Not only is it a strong dividend play, but the stock currently sits at a Zacks Rank of 3 (Hold).


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