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Why Associated Banc-Corp (ASB) is a Top Dividend Stock for Your Portfolio

Zacks Equity Research
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Getting big returns from financial portfolios, whether through stocks, bonds, ETFs, other securities, or a combination of all, is an investor's dream. However, 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 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.

Associated Banc-Corp in Focus

Headquartered in Green Bay, Associated Banc-Corp (ASB) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of 9.85% so far this year. The bank holding company is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.17 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.13%. This compares to the Banks - Midwest industry's yield of 2.29% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.93%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.68 is up 9.7% from last year. Associated Banc-Corp has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 13.13%. 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. Right now, Associated Banc-Corp's payout ratio is 34%, which means it paid out 34% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, ASB expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.07 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 1.97%.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for many reasons; they greatly improve stock investing profits, decrease overall portfolio risk, and carry tax advantages, among others. 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 have to be mindful of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, ASB 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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