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EastGroup Properties (EGP) 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. However, when you're an income investor, your primary focus is generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments.

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.

EastGroup Properties in Focus

Based in Ridgeland, EastGroup Properties (EGP) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 3.12%. Currently paying a dividend of $0.79 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.22%. In comparison, the REIT and Equity Trust - Other industry's yield is 3.38%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.38%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $3.16 is up 2.6% from last year. In the past five-year period, EastGroup Properties has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 6.50%. 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. EastGroup Properties's current payout ratio is 59%, meaning it paid out 59% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for EGP for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 is $5.71 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 6.13%.

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. It's important to keep in mind that not all companies provide 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, EGP 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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