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Why American Water Works (AWK) is a Top Dividend Stock for Your Portfolio

Whether it's through stocks, bonds, ETFs, or other types of securities, all investors love seeing their portfolios score big returns. But 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 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.

American Water Works in Focus

Headquartered in Camden, American Water Works (AWK) is a Utilities stock that has seen a price change of -10.21% so far this year. Currently paying a dividend of $0.71 per share, the company has a dividend yield of 2.39%. In comparison, the Utility - Water Supply industry's yield is 2.5%, while the S&P 500's yield is 1.61%.

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In terms of dividend growth, the company's current annualized dividend of $2.83 is up 1.9% from last year. American Water Works has increased its dividend 5 times on a year-over-year basis over the last 5 years for an average annual increase of 8.72%. 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. American Water Works's current payout ratio is 58%. This means it paid out 58% of its trailing 12-month EPS as dividend.

Looking at this fiscal year, AWK expects solid earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2024 is $5.22 per share, with earnings expected to increase 6.53% from the year ago period.

Bottom Line

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.

Big, established firms that have more secure profits are often seen as the best dividend options, but it's fairly uncommon to see high-growth businesses or tech start-ups offer their stockholders a dividend. Income investors have to be mindful of the fact that high-yielding stocks tend to struggle during periods of rising interest rates. With that in mind, AWK presents a compelling investment opportunity; it's not only an attractive dividend play, but the stock also boasts a strong Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

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American Water Works Company, Inc. (AWK) : Free Stock Analysis Report

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