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Economic turmoil caused by the Coronavirus crisis has sent shockwaves through the stock market's dividend landscape. The good news is that some stocks are well placed to withstand these problems - and it looks like Columbia Banking System Inc (NSQ:COLB) might be one of them.
With dividend cuts sweeping the market this year, income investors have been under pressure. Deceptively high yields have turned into traps and the promise of payout growth has vaporised in many cases.
But look hard enough and there are some stocks that look well placed to ride out this chaos. With a checklist of key dividend measures you can be on the path to finding them. Here's a summary of why Columbia Banking System Inc scores well against these tests...
1. High (but not excessive) dividend yield
Yield is an important dividend metric because it tells you the percentage of how much a company pays out in dividends each year relative to its share price. That makes it easy to compare dividend payouts right across the market.
High yields are obviously appealing but be careful of excessively high yields (usually above 10%) because they can be a sign of problems. When the market suspects a company may be unable to sustain its dividend, the share price will fall and actually push the yield higher - and this can be a trap. So it pays to be wary of excessive yields.
Columbia Banking System Inc has a dividend yield of 4.11%.
2. Dividend growth
Another important marker for income investors is a track record of dividend growth - and evidence that the growth will continue. Consistent dividend growth can be a pointer to companies that are carefully managing their payout policies - and rewarding their shareholders over time. Rather than aggressively dishing out earnings, dividend growth companies tend to have more modest yields, but are better at sustaining their payouts.
Columbia Banking System Inc has increased its dividend payout 8 times over the past 10 years - and the dividend per share is forecast to grow by 16.3% in the coming year.
3. Dividend safety
Attractively high yields obviously turn heads - but it’s important to know that a dividend is affordable. Dividend Cover (similar to the payout ratio) is a go-to measure of a company's net income over the dividend paid to shareholders. It’s calculated as earnings per share divided by the dividend per share and helps to indicate how sustainable a dividend is.
Dividend cover of less than 1x suggests that the company can’t fund the payout from its current year earnings - and might be relying on other sources of funds to pay it.
Columbia Banking System Inc has dividend cover of 1.66.
What does this mean for potential investors?
Yield, Growth and Safety are the three main pillars that support some of the most popular dividend investing strategies. But it's important to know that dividend payouts can be cut or cancelled very quickly when the outlook changes.
To get a fuller understanding of the dividend prospects for any stock, it's important to do some investigation yourself. Indeed, we've identified areas of concern with Columbia Banking System Inc that you can find out about here.
Alternatively, if you'd like to find more dividend shares that might be worth investigating, you can find ideas on this Dividend screen.