Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. But 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 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.
Scotts Miracle-Gro in Focus
Headquartered in Marysville, Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG - Free Report) is a Basic Materials stock that has seen a price change of 7.27% so far this year. Currently paying a dividend of $0.55 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 3.34%. In comparison, the Fertilizers industry's yield is 0.1%, while the S&P 500's yield is 2.08%.
Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $2.20 is up 2.8% from last year. In the past five-year period, Scotts Miracle-Gro has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 5.27%. 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. Scotts's current payout ratio is 59%, meaning it paid out 59% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
SMG is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $4.18 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 12.67%.
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 must be conscious 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 SMG is not only an attractive dividend play, but also represents a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).