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Why First Financial Northwest (FFNW) is a Great Dividend Stock Right Now

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Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. 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 make up large portions of long-term returns, and in many cases, dividend contributions surpass one-third of total returns.

First Financial Northwest in Focus

First Financial Northwest (FFNW) is headquartered in Renton, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of 29.91% since the start of the year. The bank is paying out a dividend of $0.22 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 2.97% compared to the Banks - West industry's yield of 1.72% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.29%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $0.44 is up 10% from last year. Over the last 5 years, First Financial Northwest has increased its dividend 4 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 14.05%. 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, First Financial's payout ratio is 45%, which means it paid out 45% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, FFNW expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 is $0.98 per share, with earnings expected to increase 11.36% from the year ago period.

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.

For instance, it's a rare occurrence when a tech start-up or big growth business offers their shareholders a dividend. It's more common to see larger companies with more established profits give out dividends. 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, FFNW 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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