Getting big returns from financial portfolios, whether through stocks, bonds, ETFs, other securities, or a combination of all, is an investor's dream. 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 make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.
Exelon in Focus
Based in Chicago, Exelon (EXC - Free Report) is in the Utilities sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 9.09%. The energy company is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.36 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.95%. This compares to the Utility - Electric Power industry's yield of 2.92% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.89%.
Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.45 is up 5.1% from last year. In the past five-year period, Exelon has increased its dividend 3 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 3.12%. 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. Right now, Exelon's payout ratio is 44%, which means it paid out 44% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Looking at this fiscal year, EXC expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $3.13 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 0.32%.
Investors like dividends for many reasons; they greatly improve stock investing profits, decrease overall portfolio risk, and carry tax advantages, among others. It's important to keep in mind that not all companies provide 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. During periods of rising interest rates, income investors must be mindful that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle. With that in mind, EXC 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).