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This is Why Aflac (AFL) is a Great Dividend Stock

Zacks Equity Research
Dividends are one of the best benefits to being a shareholder, but finding a great dividend stock is no easy task. Does Regions Financial (RF) have what it takes? Let's find out.

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.

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

Aflac in Focus

Based in Columbus, Aflac (AFL) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 8.56%. Currently paying a dividend of $0.27 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.18%. In comparison, the Insurance - Accident and Health industry's yield is 1.65%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.99%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $1.08 is up 3.8% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Aflac has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 7.68%. 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. Aflac's current payout ratio is 25%, meaning it paid out 25% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

AFL is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $4.22 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 1.44%.

Bottom Line

From greatly improving stock investing profits and reducing overall portfolio risk to providing tax advantages, investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons. But, not every company offers 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, AFL presents a compelling investment opportunity; it's not only an attractive dividend play, but the stock also boasts a strong Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).


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