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Peoples Bancorp (PEBO) is a Top Dividend Stock Right Now: Should You Buy?

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Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.

While cash flow can come from bond interest or interest from other types of investments, income investors hone in on 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 make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.

Peoples Bancorp in Focus

Headquartered in Marietta, Peoples Bancorp (PEBO - Free Report) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of -4.15% so far this year. The financial services and products company is paying out a dividend of $0.34 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 4.09% compared to the Banks - Midwest industry's yield of 2.52% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.75%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.36 is up 3% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Peoples Bancorp has increased its dividend 4 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 23.37%. 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, Peoples Bancorp's payout ratio is 45%, which means it paid out 45% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, PEBO expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 is $2.82 per share, with earnings expected to increase 6.42% from the year ago period.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons, from tax advantages and decreasing overall portfolio risk to considerably improving stock investing profits. 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, PEBO 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).


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