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.
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.
Westamerica in Focus
Headquartered in San Rafael, Westamerica (WABC) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of 0.16% so far this year. The holding company for Westamerica Bank is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.41 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.42%. This compares to the Banks - West industry's yield of 1.93% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.73%.
In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.64 is up 0.6% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Westamerica has increased its dividend 3 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 1.54%. 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, Westamerica's payout ratio is 56%, which means it paid out 56% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
WABC is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 is $3 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 0.67%.
Investors like dividends for many reasons; they greatly improve stock investing profits, decrease overall portfolio risk, and carry tax advantages, among others. 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. 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, WABC 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).
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
Westamerica Bancorporation (WABC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.