As a play on the UK’s robust property market, I believe you can’t go wrong with LSL Property (LSE: LSL). This business is active in all stages of the property cycle, selling, surveying and helping customers acquire mortgages for new properties. The group also runs a lettings division, which provides recurring income.
Built for all markets
LSL’s diversified business model has helped the company ride out the peaks and troughs of the property market. Indeed, today the firm announced that revenue for the year to December 2017 expanded 1% year-on-year and underlying operating profit rose 8% thanks to “strong growth” in financial services income of 16%, “continued growth of recurring income” with lettings up 4% year-on-year and profit growth of 8% at the surveying division.
However, despite the steady growth at these divisions, residential sales exchange income declined 9%, and the estate agency division only reported total revenue growth of 2% for the period. The company owns a total of 12 estate agency brands including Your Move, which is the largest UK single brand estate agent measured by the number of branches.
Still, while there are weak points in the results, overall, the group is growing against a backdrop of “subdued market conditions.“
Following these figures, management has decided to increase the firm’s dividend payout to investors for the year to 11.3p per share, up from last year’s 10.3p. This is “at the upper end” the board’s policy to return 30% to 40% of group underlying operating profit before interest and tax and gives a dividend yield of 4.2% at current prices.
And as well as this attractive dividend yield, shares in LSL trade at a deeply discounted valuation of 8.3 times 2017 earnings based on today’s reported basic earnings per share figure of 32.6. Using the adjusted figure, the shares are trading at a 2017 multiple of 9.6 rising to 10.3 for 2018, based on current City numbers.
So overall, if you’re after a market-beating dividend yield, from a well-diversified, cheap property business, LSL looks to me to be a good pick.
Cash-rich dividend stock
Another dirt-cheap income stock I like the look of is recruiter Harvey Nash Group (LSE: HVN).
Shares in this company currently trade at a forward P/E of 8.2, which looks too cheap to pass up. That said, as my Foolish colleague Roland Head pointed out at the beginning of this year, investors are concerned about Harvey’s outlook with Brexit on the horizon as 40% of the firm’s income comes from the UK and Ireland. First-half earnings did little to offset these concerns as, although revenue rose by 9.2% to £425m, excluding exchange rate effects, underlying pre-tax profit was only 1.8% higher.
Nonetheless, as an income play, there’s plenty to like about this business. At the time of writing the stock supports a dividend yield of 5.2% and the payout is covered 2.5 times by earnings per share, so there’s plenty of headroom for further growth, or flexibility if earnings start to fall.
On a cash flow basis, the distribution also looks secure. Last year, the dividend cost Harvey £2.9m, which was just 20% of free cash flow from operations (£14m). Put simply, it looks as if the dividend is here to stay.
However, I am worried about the recruiter's ability to be able to grow its payout in the years ahead as Brexit bites.
With that in mind, this hidden dividend stock could be a better buy for your portfolio. Over the past five years, this firm has already increased its dividend by more than 100%, and as earnings continue to expand, it looks as if there's further growth ahead for the payout.
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Rupert Hargreaves owns no share mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.