The financial sector is hoping it's made it through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most companies have managed to keep their dividends intact. In the early days of the pandemic, many believed that banks and other financial institutions would -- and should -- suspend their dividends to help their liquidity. In Europe, many banks did, in fact, suspend or reduce their dividends, by request of the European Central Bank.
It is good news that banks did not suspend their dividends, because it shows their ability to withstand a major real-life stress test. And, of course, it is good news for investors because they got paid. That is the beauty of a dividend -- you get paid while you wait, even when the stock price is down. In this type of market environment for financial stocks, a good dividend may be even more important, as most stocks are in negative territory on the year. Here are three stocks in the financial sector that are paying great dividends.
PNC Financial Services
PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC), parent of PNC Bank, pays one of the best dividends in the sector. In April it posted a quarterly dividend of $1.15 per share, which comes out to a sparkling $4.60 per year. It has increased its dividend for each of the past nine years, and since the end of 2016, it has boosted its dividend by 108%. As of Wednesday's close, PNC paid out a dividend yield around 4.3%, with a trailing-12-month payout ratio just over 40%, meaning it pays out that much of its income in dividends. That's in a healthy range -- anything over 50% starts to get a bit high.
But PNC is in good shape to sustain that high dividend. The company suffered a 28% drop in its profits in the first quarter on a $914 million COVID-19-related credit provision -- five times higher than the first quarter of 2019 -- but it maintains pretty good liquidity, particularly after it made $14.4 billion selling its shares in BlackRock last month. At the end of the first quarter, not including the BlackRock sale, it had a common equity tier 1 (CET1) capital ratio of 9.4% -- above its 7% minimum liquidity threshold. On PNCʻs first-quarter earnings call, CFO Robert Reilly said the bank has about $140 billion of available liquidity and expects the company to maintain its dividend throughout the year.
T. Rowe Price Group
Asset manager T. Rowe Price Group (NASDAQ:TROW) managed to raise its dividend in the first quarter by 18%, to $0.90 per share, and then maintained that amount in the second quarter. For the year, that translates to $3.60 per share at a yield of about 2.9%. The company has increased its dividend every year going back to 2006. It also has an extremely low payout ratio of around 15%, which means the company can continue to invest in itself while still rewarding shareholders with a solid dividend.
The reason T. Rowe Price has been able to pay such a good -- and increasing -- dividend is because it has enjoyed a steady decade of growth, gaining market share along the way, and has a stellar balance sheet with virtually no debt and a ridiculously low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.03. Even through this downturn, T. Rowe Price has outperformed its competitors, up nearly 4% for the year, so you can take that dividend to the bank.
Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) rewards shareholders with a fantastic dividend of $1.25 per share, which comes out to a whopping $5 per share annually. The firm has raised its dividend each of the last three years, including a 47% increase last year. Goldman Sachs pays out a dividend yield of 2.4% with a manageable payout ratio of about 25% over the trailing 12 months. The company saw earnings decline 46% in the first quarter, but that was due mainly to provision of credit losses. Revenue was essentially flat, but Goldman Sachs expects to see continued growth in consumer banking, trading, and corporate banking.
CFO Stephen Scherr said on the first quarter earnings call that "given our continued earnings generation and solid capital position, we feel comfortable maintaining our dividend." This company has been around for more than 100 years and is transitioning and expanding to broaden its revenue base, so that dividend is not going anywhere.