All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it’s through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. But for income investors, generating consistent cash flow from each of your liquid investments is your primary focus.
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 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.
Southwest Gas in Focus
Southwest Gas (SWX) is headquartered in Las Vegas, and is in the Utilities sector. The stock has seen a price change of 25.14% since the start of the year. The natural gas company is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.6 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.71%. This compares to the Utility – Gas Distribution industry’s yield of 2.6% and the S&P 500’s yield of 1.52%.
Looking at dividend growth, the company’s current annualized dividend of $2.38 is up 1.1% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Southwest Gas has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 4.52%. 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 per share that it pays out as a dividend. Southwest Gas’s current payout ratio is 58%. This means it paid out 58% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
Looking at this fiscal year, SWX expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 is $4.63 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 11.03%.
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.
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. That said, they can take comfort from the fact that SWX is not only an attractive dividend play, but also represents a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.