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American Assets Trust (AAT) is a Top Dividend Stock Right Now: Should You Buy?

Zacks Equity Research

Getting big returns from financial portfolios, whether through stocks, bonds, ETFs, other securities, or a combination of all, is an investor's dream. But 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.

American Assets Trust in Focus

American Assets Trust (AAT) is headquartered in San Diego, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of 18.12% since the start of the year. The real estate investment trust is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.28 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.36%. This compares to the REIT and Equity Trust - Retail industry's yield of 5.33% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.88%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.12 is up 2.8% from last year. Over the last 5 years, American Assets Trust has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 4.82%. 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. American Assets Trust's current payout ratio is 54%, meaning it paid out 54% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

AAT is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.23 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 6.70%.

Bottom Line

From greatly improving stock investing profits and reducing overall portfolio risk to providing tax advantages, investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons. But, not every company offers 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. 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 AAT 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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