All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. But 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.
Regions Financial in Focus
Headquartered in Birmingham, Regions Financial (RF - Free Report) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of 14.57% so far this year. Currently paying a dividend of $0.14 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 3.65%. In comparison, the Banks - Southeast industry's yield is 1.82%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.92%.
Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.56 is up 21.7% from last year. Regions Financial has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 25.80%. 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. Regions Financial's current payout ratio is 39%, meaning it paid out 39% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Looking at this fiscal year, RF expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $1.54 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 13.24%.
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. With that in mind, RF 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).