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Is Park National (PRK) a Good Pick for Income Investors?

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All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. But 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 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.

Park National in Focus

Park National (PRK) is headquartered in Newark, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of 6.73% since the start of the year. The financial services holding company is currently shelling out a dividend of $1.21 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.46%. This compares to the Banks - Midwest industry's yield of 1.79% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.82%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $3.84 is up 36.2% from last year. In the past five-year period, Park National has increased its dividend 1 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 0.12%. 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. Park National's current payout ratio is 57%. This means it paid out 57% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, PRK expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 is $7.15 per share, with earnings expected to increase 30.71% 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. 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 PRK is not only an attractive dividend play, but is also a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

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