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Why MDU Resources (MDU) is a Great Dividend Stock Right Now

Zacks Equity Research

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 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.

MDU Resources in Focus

MDU Resources (MDU) is headquartered in Bismarck, and is in the Utilities sector. The stock has seen a price change of 7.24% since the start of the year. Currently paying a dividend of $0.21 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.61%. In comparison, the Utility - Gas Distribution industry's yield is 2.68%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.76%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $0.83 is up 1.8% from last year. Over the last 5 years, MDU Resources has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis for an average annual increase of 2.64%. 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. MDU Resources's current payout ratio is 49%. This means it paid out 49% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for MDU for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 is $1.75 per share, representing a year-over-year earnings growth rate of 3.55%.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for a variety of different reasons, from tax advantages and decreasing overall portfolio risk to considerably improving stock investing profits. However, not all companies offer 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. During periods of rising interest rates, income investors must be mindful that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle. That said, they can take comfort from the fact that MDU is not only an attractive dividend play, but also represents a compelling investment opportunity with a Zacks Rank of #1 (Strong Buy).


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