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The Hartford (HIG) 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 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 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 account for significant portions of long-term returns, with dividend contributions exceeding one-third of total returns in many cases.

The Hartford in Focus

The Hartford (HIG) is headquartered in Hartford, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of 21.96% since the start of the year. The insurance and financial services company is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.3 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.21%. This compares to the Insurance - Multi line industry's yield of 2.42% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.97%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.20 is up 9.1% from last year. Over the last 5 years, The Hartford has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 12.93%. 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. The Hartford's current payout ratio is 27%, meaning it paid out 27% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, HIG expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $5.12 per share, with earnings expected to increase 18.24% from the year ago period.

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 have to be mindful of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, HIG 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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