In a bid to impress investors, Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.’s (MLM - Free Report) board of directors approved a 5% hike in its quarterly cash dividend to 44 cents per share. The dividend will be paid on Sep 29, 2017, to shareholders of record as on Sep 5, 2017. The new figure will add up to an annual dividend of $1.76 per share.
Martin Marietta regularly returns value through share buybacks and higher dividends. The company announced a new share repurchase program in February 2015 under which it may acquire up to 20 million shares of its outstanding common stock over the next three years.
Martin Marietta has returned more than $1.1 billion to shareholders through repurchases and dividend payouts, since the inception of the program. The company’s outstanding share repurchase authorization at the end of second-quarter 2017 was $14.6 million.
Moreover, in 2016, Martin Marietta raised the quarterly cash dividend by 5% to 42 cents, which represents a cash dividend of $1.68 per share on an annualized basis. In fact, from 1994 to 2009, annual dividends saw a compound average growth rate of near 9%, reaching $1.60 peryear. Since 2009, Martin Marietta has maintained its $1.60 annual dividend despite recession, which compelled many of its peers to significantly reduce or call off dividends altogether.
Investors should keep in mind that Martin Marietta’s shares have lost 9.7% so far this year, wider than the industry’s decline of 2.2%. Earnings estimates for both the current quarter and year moved down 2.9% over the past 30 days.
We believe that the recent dividend hike will bolster investors’ confidence in the company’s financials, improve its market position against competitors and lend more upside to the stock.
Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider
Martin Marietta carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
Better-ranked stocks in the industry include Lennar Corporation (LEN - Free Report) , M/I Homes, Inc. (MHO - Free Report) and KB Home (KBH - Free Report) .
KB Home, a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock, is expected to witness 51.9% growth in fiscal 2017 earnings. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Lennar and M/I Homes carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Fiscal 2017 earnings for Lennar are expected to increase 9.5%, while full-year 2017 earnings for M/I Homes are likely to rise 37.1%.
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