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Spire (SR) 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. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.

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.

Spire in Focus

Based in St Louis, Spire (SR) is in the Utilities sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 19.6%. The natural gas distributor is paying out a dividend of $0.65 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 3.39% compared to the Utility - Gas Distribution industry's yield of 2.74% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.29%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $2.60 is up 4.4% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Spire has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 5.94%. 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. Spire's current payout ratio is 54%. This means it paid out 54% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for SR for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 is $4.28 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 13.83%.

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.

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, SR 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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