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Why Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (ETP) 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 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.

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. In Focus

Based in Dallas, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. is in the Oils-Energy sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 24.22%. The company is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.56 per share, with a dividend yield of 10.15%. This compares to the Oil and Gas - Production Pipeline - MLB industry's yield of 6.79% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.8%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $2.26 is up 4.1% from last year. Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 14.79%. Future dividend growth will depend on earnings growth as well as payout ratio, which is the proportion of a company's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.'s current payout ratio is 231%. This means it paid out 231% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

ETP is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 is $1.01 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 40.28%.

Bottom Line

From greatly improving stock investing profits and reducing overall portfolio risk to providing tax advantages, investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons. 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. That said, they can take comfort from the fact that ETP is not only an attractive dividend play, but is also a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

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