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Why Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG) is a Top Dividend Stock for Your Portfolio

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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. 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 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.

Arthur J. Gallagher in Focus

Headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG - Free Report) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of -16.15% so far this year. The insurance and risk-management company is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.45 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.25%. This compares to the Insurance - Brokerage industry's yield of 1.44% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.63%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.80 is up 4.7% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Arthur J. Gallagher has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 3.69%. Looking ahead, future dividend growth will be dependent on earnings growth and payout ratio, which is the proportion of a company's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Right now, Arthur J. Gallagher's payout ratio is 47%, which means it paid out 47% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for AJG for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 is $4.16 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 13.97%.

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. During periods of rising interest rates, income investors must be mindful that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle. That said, they can take comfort from the fact that AJG is not only an attractive dividend play, but also represents a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

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