There is great comfort to be found in regular, reliable dividend payouts – especially in times of economic uncertainty. But finding shares that can pay them isn't easy. High yields may seem tempting, but they can also be the early warning signs of possible dividend cuts - so it's important to tread carefully.
To help navigate this uncertainty, what's needed is a go-to checklist that covers the most important aspects of dividend investment strategies. This also helps to take emotion out of the decision-making process.
With a few key rules, you'll find it much easier to find better quality dividend stocks in a methodological way. Manulife Financial's dividend is an example of how to use a checklist to identify a healthy and sustainable dividend.
Rules for finding dividend shares
1. 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.
- Manulife Financial has a dividend cover of 2.45.
2. Dividend growth
An 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.
- Manulife Financial has increased its dividend payout 6 times over the past 10 years - and the dividend per share is forecast to grow by 10.7% in the coming year.
3. High (but not excessive) dividend yield
Dividend Yield is an important dividend financial measure 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 yields above 10% are a flag to suggest there are underlying problems with a share. This is because when the market suspects a company may be unable to sustain its dividend, the share price will fall and actually push the yield higher. It pays to be wary of excessive yields.
- Manulife Financial has a dividend yield of 5.68%.
With these important rules, you can track down shares that offer a reasonable yield, with a record of growth and safety. On this basis, Manulife Financial could be worth a closer look.
To find out more you might want to take a look at the Manulife Financial StockReport from the award-winning research platform, Stockopedia. StockReports contain a goldmine of information in a single page and can help to inform your investment decisions.
To find more stocks like Manulife Financial, you'll need to equip yourself with professional-grade data and screening tools. This kind of information has traditionally been closely guarded by professional fund managers. But our team of financial analysts have carefully constructed this screen - Stockopedia’s Dividend Stock Ideas - which gives you everything you need. So why not come and take a look?
Plus, if you’d like to discover more about dividend investing, you can read our free ebook: How to Make Money in Dividend Stocks.