At Dividends & Income Daily, we are continuously preaching that a dividend payout increase is a powerful signal.
After all, a company raises its dividend for a reason. The management team and Board of Directors are telling you that their underlying business is experiencing sustainable strength.
However, it seems like every company is increasing its dividend nowadays. Keeping track of all of these dividend actions and performing due diligence can be daunting tasks for investors.
That's why we created the Dividend Sonar Report.
One of our goals is to make our readers aware of dividend growth gems that may be hiding among more popular investment choices.
Indeed, the Sonar Report found one - an insurance company that happens to be located smack dab in the middle of America's Corn Belt.
A Worthwhile Policy
FBL Financial (NYSE:FFG) is headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa. Its primary operating subsidiary, Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, underwrites and markets a broad range of life insurance and annuities to individuals and businesses. FFG also manages two property-casualty insurance companies for a fee.
On February 20, 2014, FFG increased its cash dividend by a staggering 133%, to $0.35 per quarter. The Board of Directors also authorized a $50-million stock buyback plan, as the prior plan will expire next month.
FFG may be a relatively small company, but thanks to the dividend hike, its 3.4% yield now ranks among the highest in the insurance industry.
It's also great to see a company like FFG buying back shares near book value. This should translate into significant long-term shareholder value creation. The buyback program at Aflac (NYSE:AFL), the company with the talking duck commercials, will likely prove to be far less accretive due to AFL's higher valuation.
MetLife (NYSE:MET) is a company that David Tepper's Appaloosa Management has been keen on in the past, but the hedge fund cut its position by 31% in the fourth quarter. And I can see why.
Amidst a stock buyback boom, MET is actually increasing its share count. Its 2.2% dividend yield doesn't even compensate shareholders for the dilution they're experiencing. Well, at least the company has the naming rights to Giants Stadium.
Not only does FBL sport a lower price-to-tangible book value, but its balance sheet is far less leveraged than that of many behemoths in the industry. This means that FBL would be less affected by losses in its investment portfolio than more highly levered companies, like Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU), that are seemingly "rock solid."
Take Simplicity Over Complexity Any Day
Compared to the other companies listed above, FFG is far less complex and offers a narrower range of financial services and insurance. But as they say;
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
FFG may also be too small to garner attention from large asset management firms, but we can use this to our advantage. We shouldn't limit ourselves to the largest, most well-known stocks.
The systematic approach of the Dividend Sonar Report is aimed at uncovering other attractive, high-yielding stocks just like FBL. This is why it's a must-read for any serious dividends and income investor.
Additional disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. Dividends & Income Daily is a team of financial researchers. This article was written by our Editor-in-Chief, Alan Gula, CFA. We did not receive compensation for this article, and we have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.