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Hancock Whitney (HWC) is a Top Dividend Stock Right Now: Should You Buy?

Zacks Equity Research

All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.

Cash flow can come from bond interest, interest from other types of investments, and of course, dividends. A dividend is the distribution of a company's earnings paid out to shareholders; it's often viewed by its dividend yield, a metric that measures a 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.

Hancock Whitney in Focus

Based in Gulfport, Hancock Whitney (HWC) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 14.31%. Currently paying a dividend of $0.27 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.73%. In comparison, the Banks - Southeast industry's yield is 1.82%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.89%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.08 is up 5.9% from last year. In the past five-year period, Hancock Whitney has increased its dividend 1 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 2.29%. 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, Hancock Whitney's payout ratio is 26%, which means it paid out 26% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for HWC for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $4.03 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 1%.

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.

Big, established firms that have more secure profits are often seen as the best dividend options, but it's fairly uncommon to see high-growth businesses or tech start-ups offer their stockholders a dividend. 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, HWC 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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