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5 Transportation Stocks in Focus Amid Coronavirus Scare

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It is a well-documented fact that 2019 was an extremely rewarding year for Wall Street with the three major indices — the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite — notching up double-digit gains. Although all three indices have been trading in the green so far this year, gains are muted in nature, nowhere near the stellar performance witnessed in 2019. In fact, Wall Street’s two major stock indices — the Dow and the S&P 500 — ended the first month of the ongoing year in the red.

The primary reason for this pullback is the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China. This outbreak has resulted in more than 800 deaths so far in Mainland China alone. What is worse is that this virus has spread to countries like the United Arab Emirates and Germany.

Dividend-Paying Stocks to the Rescue

Given this uncertain backdrop, focusing on companies that are financially stable and mature, and can even generate steady cash flow irrespective of market conditions seems to be prudent. Due to their financial health, these companies not only pay consistent dividends but also raise the same irrespective of the surroundings.

As investors prefer an income-generating stock, a high dividend paying one is much coveted. Needless to say, investors are always on the lookout for companies that have a track record of consistent and incremental dividend payments. Notably, the best dividend stocks are those that pay out a healthy yield and have strong prospects are less susceptible to market downturns.

5 Transportation Stocks to Watch

Naturally, the coronavirus outbreak has had a negative impact on the transportation sector, which houses airlines, railroads and shipping companies to name a few. Due to this pressing concern, Dow Jones Transportation Average — a price-weighted average of 20 U.S. transportation securities — has been trading in the red on a year-to-date basis. Also, the NYSE ARCA Airline index has been in the red so far in 2020, mainly resulting from fears of declining international-travel demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak, we believe transportation stocks will be in focus, as many companies in the transportation space reward shareholders through dividend payments and also raise the same.

Below, we have highlighted five transportation stocks, which not only have an impressive dividend-paying history but have also raised their dividend payouts in 2020.

Our first choice is GATX Corporation (GATX - Free Report) , based in Chicago, IL. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company is a leading global railcar lessor. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

In February, the company’s board of directors cleared a 4.3% hike in its quarterly dividend to 48 cents per share ($1.92 annually). Also, GATX has an impressive record with respect to dividends. It has been offering dividends regularly since 1919. The company has a dividend yield in excess of 2%. Furthermore, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 earnings moved up 5.5% over the past 60 days.

SkyWest (SKYW - Free Report) operates a regional airline in the United States and is based in St. George, UT. In February, the company increased its quarterly dividend payout by 16.7% to 14 cents per share (56 cents annualized). SkyWest, currently carrying a Zacks Rank #3, has a dividend yield in excess of 0.8%. SkyWest has been paying regular quarterly dividends for more than 25 years now. In addition, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings moved 4% north over the past 60 days.

Based in Montreal, Canada, Canadian National Railway Company (CNI - Free Report) is engaged in the rail and related transportation business. In January, the company’s board of directors approved a 7% hike in its quarterly cash dividend to C$0.575 per share. The company has a dividend yield in excess of 1.5%.  Canadian National has been paying regular quarterly dividends for more than 15 years now. Further, this Zacks Rank #3 company has an impressive earnings surprise history, having outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters and missing the mark in one.

Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL - Free Report) , based in Thomasville, NC, is a leading LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) company. The company carries a Zacks Rank of 3, at present.  This February, the company announced a 35.3% hike in its quarterly dividend to 23 cents per share (annualized 92 cents).

Alaska Air Group (ALK - Free Report) is based in Seattle, WA, and carries a Zacks Rank of 3, currently. Alaska Air, together with its partner regional carriers, serves more than 100 cities across North America. In January, the company’s board announced a 7.1% hike in its quarterly dividend to 37.5 cents per share (annualized $1.5). The latest increase marks the seventh such instance, since the carrier started paying dividends in July 2013. Moreover, the company comes from a favorable Zacks industry (top 13%).

Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2020

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