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Zions (ZION) is a Top Dividend Stock Right Now: Should You Buy?

Zacks Equity Research
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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.

Cash flow can come from bond interest, interest from other types of investments, and of course, 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.

Zions in Focus

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Zions (ZION) is a Finance stock that has seen a price change of 14.65% so far this year. The financial holding company is paying out a dividend of $0.3 per share at the moment, with a dividend yield of 2.57% compared to the Banks - West industry's yield of 1.89% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.9%.

Looking at dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.20 is up 15.4% from last year. Zions has increased its dividend 4 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 59.52%. 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. Zions's current payout ratio is 29%. This means it paid out 29% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

ZION is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $4.44 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 8.82%.

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.

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 must be conscious of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, ZION 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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