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Sonoco (SON) is a Top Dividend Stock Right Now: Should You Buy?

Zacks Equity Research
Coke (KO) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.

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.

Cash flow can come from bond interest, interest from other types of investments, and of course, 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.

Sonoco in Focus

Sonoco (SON) is headquartered in Hartsville, and is in the Industrial Products sector. The stock has seen a price change of 16.86% since the start of the year. The packaging maker is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.41 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.64%. This compares to the Containers - Paper and Packaging industry's yield of 2.38% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.92%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.64 is up 1.2% from last year. In the past five-year period, Sonoco has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 5.98%. 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. Sonoco's current payout ratio is 49%. This means it paid out 49% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for SON for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $3.51 per share, with earnings expected to increase 4.15% 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.

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, SON 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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