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 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.
BancorpSouth in Focus
Headquartered in Tupelo, BancorpSouth (BXS - Free Report) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of 13.96% so far this year. Currently paying a dividend of $0.17 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.28%. In comparison, the Banks - Southeast industry's yield is 1.73%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.95%.
Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.68 is up 9.7% from last year. Over the last 5 years, BancorpSouth has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 24.02%. 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. BancorpSouth's current payout ratio is 30%. This means it paid out 30% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Looking at this fiscal year, BXS expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.39 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 7.17%.
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.
For instance, it's a rare occurrence when a tech start-up or big growth business offers their shareholders a dividend. It's more common to see larger companies with more established profits give out dividends. Income investors have to be mindful of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, BXS 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).