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.
Cash flow can come from bond interest, interest from other types of investments, and of course, dividends. A dividend is the distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders; it's often viewed by its dividend yield, a metric that measures a 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.
MetLife in Focus
Headquartered in New York, MetLife (MET - Free Report) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of 14.66% so far this year. Currently paying a dividend of $0.44 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 3.74%. In comparison, the Insurance - Multi line industry's yield is 2.09%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.88%.
In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.76 is up 6% from last year. MetLife has increased its dividend 4 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 4.28%. 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. MetLife's current payout ratio is 31%, meaning it paid out 31% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Earnings growth looks solid for MET for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $5.67 per share, with earnings expected to increase 5.19% from the year ago period.
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.
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. During periods of rising interest rates, income investors must be mindful that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle. With that in mind, MET presents a compelling investment opportunity; it's not only an attractive dividend play, but the stock also boasts a strong Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).