A Starbucks store is seen inside the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles, California.
Lucy Nicholson | Reuters
Earnings season has a way of revealing which companies can thrive despite near-term headwinds and enhance shareholder returns in the long run.
With dividend-paying stocks, investors will want companies that have the strong balance sheets and cash flows needed to provide steady payments to shareholders. Analysts can dig through these details and identify stocks that could boost returns through dividends and price appreciation.
Keeping that in mind, here are five attractive dividend stocks, according to Wall Street’s top experts on TipRanks, a platform that ranks analysts based on their past performance.
Crude oil and natural gas exploration and production company EOG Resources (EOG) is first on this week’s list. On Nov. 2, EOG reported market-beating third-quarter results. It also announced a 10% increase in its regular quarterly dividend to 91 cents per share and a special dividend of $1.50 per share.
Additionally, EOG increased its cash return commitment from 2024 onwards to a minimum of 70% of annual free cash flow from the previous target of at least 60%. Considering just the regular dividends, EOG’s dividend yield stands at 2.9%.
Following the print, Siebert Williams Shank analyst Gabriele Sorbara reiterated a buy rating on EOG with a price target of $172, citing the company’s “blowout quarter” that exceeded expectations across all metrics. Commenting on the subdued Q4 2023 guidance, the analyst reminded investors that EOG has a long track record of beating its guidance on production, capital expenditure and costs.
The analyst noted the hike in EOG’s cash returns commitment and also pointed out that this year’s total cash returns (dividends plus share buybacks) are tracking at $4.1 billion, representing about 75% of its estimated FCF of $5.5 billion.
“We maintain our Buy rating on its track record of execution and shareholder returns with its cash rich balance sheet (~$5.33 billion) providing differentiation and optionality,” said Sorbara.
Sorbara holds the 434th position among more than 8,600 analysts on TipRanks. The analyst’s ratings have been successful 46% of the time, with each rating delivering an average return of 10.9%. (See EOG Resources Financial Statements on TipRanks).
Another energy player, Coterra Energy (CTRA), recently announced better-than-anticipated third-quarter earnings. The company raised its 2023 production guidance, driven by faster cycle times and strong well productivity.
In Q3 2023, Coterra returned $211 million to shareholders, including $151 million via dividends and $60 million through share repurchases. Overall, the company’s year-to-date shareholder return of $839 million represents 91% of its free cash flow.
Management reiterated its commitment to return over 50% of its annual free cash flow to shareholders through its annual regular dividend of 80 cents per share and share repurchases. Based on just the regular dividend, CTRA offers a dividend yield of about 3%.
Mizuho analyst Nitin Kumar, who ranks No. 124 out of more than 8,600 analysts on TipRanks, thinks that in a quarter where several exploration and production companies have attributed their strong volumes to improving operating efficiencies, CTRA still stands out in his opinion as its beat-and-raise performance was driven by both well timing and productivity.
Further, he highlighted that the company raised its 2023 oil production outlook by 3% compared to peers who increased their guidance by about zero to 1%, on average.
Kumar reiterated a buy rating on CTRA stock with a price target of $42 and designated it a top pick, noting, “CTRA returned ~84% of 3Q23 FCF via its dividend and buybacks, and is on track to return ~80% of 2023 FCF (vs. target of 50%+).”
Kumar’s ratings have been profitable 63% of the time, with each delivering an average return of 17%. (See CTRA Technical Analysis on TipRanks)
Kumar is also bullish on another dividend stock: Crescent Energy (CRGY), an independent energy company that develops and operates oil and natural gas properties. On Nov. 6, the company announced its third-quarter results and declared a quarterly dividend of 12 cents per share, payable on Dec. 4. CRGY offers a dividend yield of 4.6%.
Commenting on the third-quarter results, Kumar said that CRGY reported an oil-driven production and EBITDAX (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and exploration expense) beat, with lower capital expenditure.
Kumar noted that following Crescent’s two Western Eagle Ford acquisitions, the company is already displaying impressive capital efficiency improvements, realizing about 20% drilling and completions well cost savings compared to the prior operator. This suggests an incrementally better 2024 outlook compared to the company’s preliminary soft forecast, the analyst said.
“Moreover, the company is further demonstrating it can deliver on its acquisition-driven model in the public market arena, which should give investors additional confidence in the strategy,” said Kumar.
In line with his bullish stance, Kumar reiterated a buy rating on CRGY with a price target of $19. (See CRGY Insider Trading Activity on TipRanks)
Diamondback Energy (FANG) is an oil and natural gas company focused on assets in the Permian Basin in West Texas. On Nov. 6, it delivered better-than-projected third-quarter results. Also, the company announced a base dividend of 84 cents per share and a variable cash dividend of $2.53 per share, both payable on Nov. 24.
Diamondback said that the base and variable dividends combined indicate an annualized yield of more than 8%. It is worth noting that FANG also enhanced shareholder returns through share repurchases worth $56 million in Q3 2023.
In reaction to the results and dividend announcement, RBC Capital analyst Scott Hanold said that Diamondback’s execution remains strong. He added that the company’s shareholder return strategy is differentiated, noting, “FANG quickly pivoted to higher levels of dividends, but was still able to execute buybacks and among the lowest relative points during the last quarter.”
The analyst noted that the company repurchased shares worth $1.9 billion at an average 6% discount to market prices since the start of 2022. He pointed out FANG’s discipline to purchase shares only during periods of significant price disconnects from the stock’s intrinsic value.
Hanold maintained a buy rating on FANG stock and raised the price target to $175 from $170 to reflect stronger free cash flow and stock buybacks executed at accretive value point. He ranks No. 16 among more than 8,600 analysts on TipRanks. His ratings have been successful 64% of the time, with each rating delivering an average return of 24.4%. (See Diamondback Hedge Fund Trading Activity on TipRanks)
Finally, there is coffee chain Starbucks (SBUX), which impressed investors with its fiscal fourth-quarter beats earlier this month. The demand for the company’s pricier beverages and higher traffic in the domestic market boosted its quarterly performance.
The company also announced its long-term strategy called “Triple Shot Reinvention with Two Pumps,” which will focus on elevating the brand, bolstering and scaling digital presence, and expanding globally, while unlocking efficiency and reinvigorating partner culture.
Coming to shareholder returns, in September, Starbucks announced a 7.5% rise in its quarterly dividend to 57 cents per share, payable on Nov. 24. Starbucks initiated its dividend payments in 2010 and has increased its dividend for 13 straight years at a compound annual growth rate of about 20%. SBUX offers a dividend yield of 2.2%.
Following the fiscal Q4 results and updates on the long-term strategy, BTIG analyst Peter Saleh reiterated a buy rating on SBUX with a price target of $125. The analyst highlighted the company’s better-than-anticipated global same-store sales growth of 8% in fiscal Q4 and noted that traffic gains and solid operating margin fueled the earnings beat.
“We believe Starbucks has a compelling return profile as its unfolding sales and economic recovery is matched by continued global unit development and stronger shareholder return targets,” said Saleh.
Saleh ranks No. 504 among more than 8,600 analysts tracked by TipRanks. His ratings have been profitable 58% of the time, with each delivering an average return of 9.10%. (See Starbucks’ Stock Charts on TipRanks)
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