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Why Caterpillar (CAT) is a Great Dividend Stock Right Now

Zacks Equity Research

Getting big returns from financial portfolios, whether through stocks, bonds, ETFs, other securities, or a combination of all, is an investor's dream. 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 account for significant portions of long-term returns, with dividend contributions exceeding one-third of total returns in many cases.

Caterpillar in Focus

Headquartered in Deerfield, Caterpillar (CAT) is an Industrial Products stock that has seen a price change of -6.34% so far this year. Currently paying a dividend of $1.03 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 3.46%. In comparison, the Manufacturing - Construction and Mining industry's yield is 1.72%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.92%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $4.12 is up 25.6% from last year. Caterpillar has increased its dividend 4 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 4.17%. 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. Caterpillar's current payout ratio is 31%. This means it paid out 31% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for CAT for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $11.72 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 4.46%.

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. During periods of rising interest rates, income investors must be mindful that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle. With that in mind, CAT 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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