Verizon Communications (VZ -0.03%), Lazard Ltd. (LAZ -0.60%), and Western Union (WU 0.93%) all offer dividends with yields above 4%, safe cash dividend payout ratios (trailing 12 months) below 55%, and attractive share prices, with price-to-earnings ratios below 10.
On top of all those important numbers, each has shown revenue growth and momentum because of market forces. Choosing the best dividend stock isn't just about picking a stock with a high yield, particularly if you are spending $5,000. You want to make sure your money isn't wasted, and these three have sustainable dividends and a likelihood of dividend growth.
1. Verizon sees growth from the 5G rollout
Verizon's shares are down more than 8% over the past year. At its current price, the company offers a price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) of just 9.893, making it a bargain compared to other wireless telecommunications companies, which have an average P/E of 76.82.
The company just closed out its 2021 fiscal year and reported growth in both revenue and earnings. Full-year reported revenue was $133.6 billion, up 4.1% year over year, while full-year earnings per share (EPS) were a reported $5.32, compared to $4.30 in the same period in 2020.
Verizon is known for its wireless service, but the 5G rollout is also helping it gain more broadband customers. The company said it had 106,000 total broadband net additions from Fios and DSL, an increase of 30,000 total broadband net additions over 2020.
Verizon's purchase of TracFone Wireless is already showing some synergy. The deal was completed in November, and Verizon said TracFone's revenue in the fourth quarter was up $700 million over TracFone's revenue in 2020.
Verizon increased its quarterly dividend by 2% last year to $0.64 per share, making 2021 the 15th consecutive year it has increased its dividend. At its current price, it offers a dividend yield of 4.82% and has a cash dividend payout ratio of 46.04%.
2. Lazard buoyed by the pace of acquisitions and mergers
Lazard, a financial advisory and asset management company, specializes in assisting companies with mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, and corporate finance. While the company's stock has declined nearly 4% over the past year, there's a lot to like about its prospects. According to a survey by Ernst & Young Global Limited, 60% of U.S. CEOs are pursuing mergers and acquisitions in 2022.
In the third quarter, Lazard reported a company-record $702 million in revenue, up 23% year over year. It reported $2.2 billion in revenue through nine months, up 30% over the same period in 2020. Net income was up as well, with a reported $107 million in Q3, up 43% year over year and $318 million through nine months, a rise of 49% compared to the first nine months of 2020.
Given that growth, investors haven't completely caught on, giving the company an attractive P/E of 9.21, less than a quarter of the average financial services company's P/E of 42.92. Part of that may be because the company kept its quarterly dividend at $0.47 last year for the second consecutive year. However, the yield is still a nice 4.54%, and with a cash dividend payout ratio of 29.03%, the company can afford to raise the dividend this year. Over the past 10 years, the company has raised its dividend by 193.8%.
3. Western Union's dividend is calling you
Western Union's shares have declined more than 17% over the past year. That's despite what has been a good year for the global money movement and payment services company. The combination of a strong earnings year and a downward share movement has given the stock a low P/E of 9.141. Through nine months, it reported revenue of $3.8 billion, up 6% year over year, and EPS of $1.56, up 13% compared to the same period in 2020. Net income through nine months was a reported $637 million, up from $567.2 million year over year.
A big key for Western Union is doing more of its business digitally, which is cheaper than operating separate offices. According to World Economic Forum figures, the migrant population in 2020 reached 272 million, about 3.5% of the world's population. The number of people living in a country other than their birth country has tripled since the 1970s, and that trend means more people sending money wirelessly across borders by Western Union. In the U.S. alone, there are nearly 1.6 million people with cases pending in the U.S. immigration court system.
Western Union raised its dividend 4.4% last year to $0.235 per quarterly share, and 2021 was the seventh consecutive year the company has boosted its dividend. At its current price, its dividend yield is 5.19%, with a cash dividend payout ratio of 51%.
Thinking for the long term
All of these dividend stocks are good buys right now, with improving financials. Lazard is the safest bet of the three because the company has seen the most revenue growth and has the lowest cash dividend payout ratio. My only concern is that Lazard has been less likely to raise its dividend in recent years. Still, that's a safe 4.54% yield, and the company does have room to raise it.
Of the three, though, I like Western Union the best. I believe its share price is the most undervalued of the trio, and it offers the best dividend yield, plus a cash dividend payout ratio that is safe, though higher than the other two stocks. I also believe the need for international money transfers will likely speed up. Verizon has the longest history of dividend increases, and it is worth watching as the long-awaited 5G rollout begins to have an impact, but it has increased its dividend only 28% over the past decade, the lowest rate of the three.