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This is Why Mid-America Apartment Communities (MAA) is a Great 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. But 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.

Mid-America Apartment Communities in Focus

Mid-America Apartment Communities (MAA) is headquartered in Memphis, and is in the Finance sector. The stock has seen a price change of -0.95% since the start of the year. Currently paying a dividend of $0.92 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 3.77%. In comparison, the REIT and Equity Trust - Residential industry's yield is 3.58%, while the S&P 500's yield is 2%.

Taking a look at the company's dividend growth, its current annualized dividend of $3.69 is up 6% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Mid-America Apartment Communities has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 6.05%. 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. Mid-America Apartment Communities's current payout ratio is 62%. This means it paid out 62% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

MAA is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 is $6.05 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 1.85%.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for many reasons; they greatly improve stock investing profits, decrease overall portfolio risk, and carry tax advantages, among others. However, not all companies offer 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. 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, MAA 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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