All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. However, when you're an income investor, your primary focus is generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments.
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.
Manulife Financial in Focus
Manulife Financial (MFC - Free Report) is headquartered in Toronto, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of 18.67% since the start of the year. The financial services company is paying out a dividend of $0.19 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 4.52% compared to the Insurance - Life Insurance industry's yield of 0.69% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.96%.
Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.76 is up 7.6% from last year. In the past five-year period, Manulife Financial has increased its dividend 4 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 8.74%. 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. Manulife's current payout ratio is 36%, meaning it paid out 36% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Looking at this fiscal year, MFC expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.19 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 3.79%.
From greatly improving stock investing profits and reducing overall portfolio risk to providing tax advantages, investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons. But, not every company offers 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, MFC 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).