Why Washington Federal (WAFD) is a Great Dividend Stock Right Now
All investors love getting big returns from their portfolio, whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities. 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.
Washington Federal in Focus
Based in Seattle, Washington Federal (WAFD) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 23.81%. The holding company for Washington Federal Savings Bank is currently shelling out a dividend of $0.2 per share, with a dividend yield of 2.42%. This compares to the Banks - Northeast industry's yield of 1.73% and the S&P 500's yield of 1.89%.
In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.80 is up 19.4% from last year. Over the last 5 years, Washington Federal has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 10.73%. 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. Washington Federal's current payout ratio is 29%. This means it paid out 29% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.
WAFD is expecting earnings to expand this fiscal year as well. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $2.56 per share, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 6.67%.
From greatly improving stock investing profits and reducing overall portfolio risk to providing tax advantages, investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons. It's important to keep in mind that not all companies provide 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 WAFD is not only an attractive dividend play, but is also 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.