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.
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.
Aflac in Focus
Based in Columbus, Aflac (AFL - Free Report) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 7.53%. The insurer is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.26 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.2%. This compares to the Insurance - Accident and Health industry's yield of 1.1% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.93%.
In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.08 is up 3.8% from last year. In the past five-year period, Aflac has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 7.68%. 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. Aflac's current payout ratio is 25%. This means it paid out 25% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Earnings growth looks solid for AFL for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $4.22 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 1.44%.
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.
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, AFL 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).