Why Lakeland Financial (LKFN) is a Top Dividend Stock for Your Portfolio

Zacks Equity Research

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.

While cash flow can come from bond interest or interest from other types of investments, income investors hone in on 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.

Lakeland Financial in Focus

Based in Warsaw, Lakeland Financial (LKFN) is in the Finance sector, and so far this year, shares have seen a price change of 14.57%. Currently paying a dividend of $0.3 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.61%. In comparison, the Banks - Midwest industry's yield is 2.57%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.94%.

In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $1.20 is up 9.1% from last year. Lakeland Financial has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 11.06%. Future dividend growth will depend on earnings growth as well as payout ratio, which is the proportion of a company's annual earnings per share that it pays out as a dividend. Lakeland Financial's current payout ratio is 32%, meaning it paid out 32% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Earnings growth looks solid for LKFN for this fiscal year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 is $3.29 per share, with earnings expected to increase 5.11% from the year ago period.

Bottom Line

Investors like dividends for many reasons; they greatly improve stock investing profits, decrease overall portfolio risk, and carry tax advantages, among others. 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 must be conscious of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, LKFN 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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