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Why First Defiance Financial (FDEF) is a Top Dividend Stock

Zacks Equity Research
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All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. 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 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 make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.

First Defiance Financial in Focus

Based in Defiance, First Defiance Financial (FDEF) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 22.61%. The holding company for First Federal Bank of the Midwest is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.15 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.13%. This compares to the Financial - Savings and Loan industry's yield of 1.79% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.81%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.68 is up 36% from last year. In the past five-year period, First Defiance Financial has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 21.64%. 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. First Defiance's current payout ratio is 29%. This means it paid out 29% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for FDEF for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 is $2.21 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 25.57%.

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. 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, FDEF 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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