Sometimes, finding the right stock can be a chore, and sometimes, a pleasure. But whether it’s a breeze or a slog, some things remain constant. The right stock will always bring a benefit to your portfolio – and dividend stocks, when carefully chosen, will do just that.
Caution, however, is essential. We’ve seen in recent months many supposedly stable dividends get slashed back or even suspended as companies looked to shore up liquidity during the coronavirus economic shutdown crisis. In the current environment, a high dividend yield is only part of the equation; look for a combination of payment reliability or explicit moves to keep the dividend viable.
Wolfe Research has been doing the research for you, picking out stocks that are meeting those requirements. And the results are interesting – Wolfe has tagged three ‘second tier’ companies with strong dividends. These aren’t big names that dominate the stock market, but nevertheless, they are companies that deserve a second look. With details from the TipRanks database, here’s that second look.
Huntington Bancshares (HBAN)
Our first stock is a holding company, the owner of Ohio-based Huntington Bank. Through the subsidiary, Huntington offers retail and commercial banking services in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, through more than 800 branches and 1,300 ATMs. The bank boasts a market cap exceeding $10 billion, and manages over $118 billion in assets.
In short, while Huntington is not huge name in the stock market, it is a major name in the Midwest – and that is a firm foundation for any company. Huntington has seen stable revenues during the corona crisis, with the 1H20 top line growing sequentially from Q1’s $1.15 billion to Q2’s $1.18 billion. Earnings remained positive during the half, and after dropping in the first quarter turned sharply upwards in Q2 to beat the forecast. Second quarter EPS was 13 cents, more than double the estimates.
On the dividend front, the company raised its dividend in mid-2019, shortly before corona began to hit the news broadcasts, and has maintained it during the crisis and economic shutdowns. HBAN pays out 15 cents per common share, annualizing to 60 cents and giving a robust yield of 6.1%. This is more than triple the average yield found among S&P-listed companies, and more than double that found among Huntington’s peers in the financial sector.
Bill Carache, 5-star analyst with Wolfe, was impressed enough with HBAN to initiate coverage of the stock with a Buy rating and a $12 price target, suggesting a 16% upside from current levels. (To watch Carache’s track record, click here)
In his comments, Carache wrote, “We believe HBAN, a quality super regional bank with a strong Midwestern U.S.footprint, has evolved into a lower risk and higher ROTCE-generating bank in the years following the GFC (Global Financial Crisis). Against a ZIRP backdrop and broadly challenging revenue growth outlook for the banking industry, we view HBAN as a relative outperformer as we emerge from the GCC (Global COVID19 Crisis) and expect an inflection in 2022 EPS and ROTCE that is sharper relative to peers."
Overall, HBAN has drawn optimism mixed with caution when it comes to consensus opinion among sell-side analysts. Out of 7 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 4 are bullish on the stock, while 3 remain sidelined. With a modest upside of 5%, the stock's consensus price target stands at $10.86. (See Huntington stock analysis at TipRanks)
Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI)
Next on our list, Gaming and Leisure Properties, is a real estate investment trust focused on casino properties. GLPI is the owner operator of 45 casinos in 17 states, and was showing strong growth in profits and share gains through the end of January this year.
The February economic shutdowns brought those good times to a stop, as GLPI saw customer traffic plummet at its properties.
The long-term nature of GLPI’s property leases, however, have helped keep quarterly earnings solid, despite the recessionary pressures and the market downturn. The company has used that base to keep the dividend payments flowing to shareholders, although with a twist.
GLPI has been paying out its dividend during the second and third quarters at 60 cents per common share, are reduction of only 10 cents from the Q1 level. The twist is, the company is paying 12 cents per share in cash, and the remainder in shares of common stock. This creates less of an impact on the company’s liquidity, and for shareholders holds out the promise higher dividend payments when conditions return to normal, as the new shares added to their holdings will pay out dividends in their turn. Counting from 60 cents per share, GLPI’s yield matches HBAN’s, at 6.1%.
Wolfe’s Jared Shojaian notes that GLPI has seen solid business as economic restrictions have been lifted, saying, “Regional gaming trends have been exceptional since the reopening, and non-Vegas accounts for 100% of GLPI’s portfolio. Note 43/45 properties have now reopened. GLPI is collecting 99% of rent through July…” Going on, Shojaian notes the dividend structure, and writes, “We find the yield to be very attractive, particularly against other alternatives and the U.S. 10-year.”
The analyst concluded, "Over time we see gaming REITs closing the valuation gap to other triple-net REITs, and we think gaming REITs may even deserve to trade at a premium. Additionally, in this record low interest rate environment we think a premium to historical averages could also be warranted, so over time there may be more upside to our target multiple."
To this end, Shojaian rates GLPI shares a Buy, and his $46 price target implies room for 16% upside growth. (To watch Shojaian’s track record, click here)
Overall, the Strong Buy analyst consensus rating on GLPI is unanimous, based on 7 recent Buy reviews. The stock is trading at $39.51 per share, with an average price target of $40.29 indicating some lingering caution, and a modest upside potential. (See GLPI stock analysis on TipRanks)
Regions Financial Corporation (RF)
With the last stock on our list, we get back to the banking industry. Regions Financial is another holding company, the owner of Regions Bank, which has over 1,400 branches and 1,900 cash machines in 16 states across the Midwest, the South, and Texas. Regions is listed on the S&P 500 index, and has an $11 billion market cap.
Like most companies with a large walk-in customer base, Regions saw earnings fall in Q1, and turn negative in Q2. This was despite a gain in revenues, to $1.54 billion, by the end of the second quarter. The company projects a better third quarter, with earnings approaching pre-crisis levels.
Despite all of this, Regions has kept up its dividend payment, declaring last month a 15.5 cent per common share payout, due in early September. This will mark 5 quarters in a row with the dividend at this level, which annualizes to 62 cents and yields 5.4%. That dividend yield is significantly higher than Regions’ peers on the S&P index, where dividend yields average about 2%.
Once more, we turn to Bill Carache for the review of RF stock. The analyst sees some risk to the robust dividend if earnings don’t return to consistent positive territory in 2021, but for now he remains bullish: “Although the severity of EPS headwinds in 2020 and 2021 remains unclear, we expect EPS growth to inflect in 2022 as credit headwinds abate and the spending and lending environments continue to normalize—even if zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) persists. Rather than focusing on the transitory recessionary headwinds that have already been discounted in recent lows, we believe investors should instead turn their attention to the path to EPS normalization in 2022."
"While the revenue growth outlook in a ZIRP environment is challenging for all banks, we expect RF to outperform as its low-cost deposit franchise and effective hedging strategy drive stronger PPNR and a sharper inflection in 2022 EPS versus peers," the analyst added.
Carache is confident enough to put a $16 price target on RF, implying a hefty 33% upside potential and fully supporting his Buy rating. (To watch Carache’s track record, click here)
Overall, Regions has a Moderate Buy from the analyst consensus, based on 6 Buy ratings and 4 Holds. The stock has an average price target of $12.83, suggesting room for a modest 6.65% growth from the current trading price of $12.03. (See Regions stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.