Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. 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.
MDU Resources in Focus
Based in Bismarck, MDU Resources (MDU - Free Report) is in the Utilities sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 15.48%. The energy, mining, construction and utilities company is paying out a dividend of $0.2 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 2.94% compared to the Utility - Gas Distribution industry's yield of 2.71% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.91%.
Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.81 is up 1.9% from last year. Over the last 5 years, MDU Resources has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 2.67%. 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. Right now, MDU Resources's payout ratio is 55%, which means it paid out 55% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Looking at this fiscal year, MDU expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $1.51 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 9.42%.
Investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons, from tax advantages and decreasing overall portfolio risk to considerably improving stock investing profits. 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. Income investors have to be mindful of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. That said, they can take comfort from the fact that MDU is not only an attractive dividend play, but also represents a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).