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Why BancorpSouth (BXS) is a Great Dividend Stock Right Now

Zacks Equity Research

All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.

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.

BancorpSouth in Focus

BancorpSouth (BXS) is headquartered in Tupelo, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of 9.18% since the start of the year. The bank is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.17 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.38%. This compares to the Banks - Southeast industry's yield of 1.49% and the S&P 500's yield of 2.01%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.68 is up 9.7% from last year. BancorpSouth has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 26.28%. Any future dividend growth will depend on both earnings growth and the company's payout ratio; a payout ratio is the proportion of a firm's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. BancorpSouth's current payout ratio is 33%. This means it paid out 33% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, BXS expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.35 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 5.38%.

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.

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, BXS 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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