Dividend paying stocks like The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE:HIG) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason – some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it’s important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you’ll find our analysis useful.
In this case, Hartford Financial Services Group likely looks attractive to investors, given its 3.1% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 2.1% of its market capitalisation. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Hartford Financial Services Group for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company’s net income after tax. In the last year, Hartford Financial Services Group paid out 25% of its profit as dividends. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.
We update our data on Hartford Financial Services Group every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Hartford Financial Services Group’s dividend payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.2 in 2010, compared to US$1.3 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 21% per year over this time.
With rapid dividend growth and no notable cuts to the dividend over a lengthy period of time, we think this company has a lot going for it.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. It’s good to see Hartford Financial Services Group has been growing its earnings per share at 10% a year over the past five years. A company paying out less than a quarter of its earnings as dividends, and growing earnings at more than 10% per annum, looks to be right in the cusp of its growth phase. At the right price, we might be interested.
Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. We’re glad to see Hartford Financial Services Group has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. We like that it has been delivering solid improvement in its earnings per share, and relatively consistent dividend payments. Hartford Financial Services Group fits all of our criteria, and we think it’s an attractive dividend idea that would warrant further investigation.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 10 analysts we track are forecasting for Hartford Financial Services Group for free with public analyst estimates for the company.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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