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Cathay General (CATY) is a Top Dividend Stock Right Now: Should You Buy?

Zacks Equity Research

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 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 make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.

Cathay General in Focus

Cathay General (CATY) is headquartered in Los Angeles, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of 0.21% since the start of the year. The holding company for Cathay Bank is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.31 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.69%. This compares to the Banks - West industry's yield of 2.18% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.92%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.24 is up 20.4% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Cathay General has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 28.45%. 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. Cathay's current payout ratio is 37%. This means it paid out 37% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for CATY for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $3.50 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 4.79%.

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. 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, CATY 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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