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Instant Analysis: Universal Insurance Holdings Cranks Its Dividend 17% Higher

By Eric Volkman – Jan 15, 2016 at 4:38PM

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The regional insurer will pay $0.14 per share.

What happened?
Universal Insurance Holdings (UVE -0.28%) is insuring that its stockholders have a few more coins in their pockets as they dive further into 2016. The company declared a fresh quarterly dividend of $0.14 per share, which represents an increase of 17% over its predecessor.

In the press release announcing the new payout, the insurer pointed out that this was the third raise it has declared since 2013. The new distribution is to be paid on March 2 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 18. At the current stock price, it yields just less than 3%. That compares very favorably to the current average of stocks on the S&P 500 index, which stands at 2.3%.

Does it matter?
Universal Insurance Holdings has been a habitual dividend payer for nearly a decade now, and it hasn't been shy in boosting that payout. So we can't consider the latest raise to be unexpected.

This new raise makes the dividend generous in terms of yield for the insurance industry, but still fairly modest as far as payouts are concerned more generally. Universal Insurance Holdings' approximately 3% yield well outpaces more high-profile insurers American International Group and Chubb, which currently stand at 2% and 1.8%, respectively.

As it's a regional operator and not a nationwide incumbent like American International Group or Chubb, Universal theoretically has more scope to return its earnings to shareholders -- as opposed to parking them into relatively safe investments. That might change in the future if Universal continues on its path of expansion out of its traditional power base in Florida.

So far it's done pretty well, managing to lift premiums, keep losses/claims at a modest level, and post a bottom line that's grown significantly. The company seems to want to advance to the size and scope of American International Group and Chubb; we'll see if and how this affects its dividend policy going forward.

Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Nor does The Motley Fool. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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