The FTSE 250 is jam-packed with exceptional income shares that could well make you a fortune.
Having said that, there are also plenty of dirt-cheap big yielders sitting in the index that are investment traps waiting to rout your shares portfolio.
How do the dividend stocks I have analysed below stack up?
The difficult outlook for many of Britain’s listed publicans means that many dividend investors may be choosing to give Marston’s (LSE: MARS) a wide berth today. I reckon this could be a mistake.
Even though the leisure leviathan is expected to endure some earnings woes in the near term — a 3% bottom-line reversal is forecast for the year ending September 2019 — this isn’t the first time the company has encountered a little profits turbulence in recent years. Yet this has not precluded the annual dividend raise.
Marston’s is still delivering significant cash flows and should help it to ride out any current trading troubles and keep advancing the dividend. And further out, I’m confident the publican’s site expansion programme should allow it to capitalise on the rosy outlook for the pub-restaurant segment and help earnings, and thus dividends, to step higher.
City brokers share my glass-half-full approach and they are expecting the annual dividend at Marston’s to climb to 7.6p per share this year, from 7.5p in fiscal 2018. As a consequence, investors can enjoy a bulky 7.5% yield.
An ultra-low prospective P/E ratio of 7.3 times sweetens the investment case.
I am also confident that Rank Group (LSE: RNK) should continue offering market-smashing dividend yields long into the future.
As I mentioned last time out, the gambling giant is suffering more recently from falling footfall at its Grosvenor casinos and Mecca bingo venues. This would not deter me from investing, however, thanks to the exceptional revenues potential of the online betting market.
Turnover from this segment continues to grow by double-digit percentages and the group is understandably bulking up its presence here. Last month it snapped up Spanish bingo operator YoBingo.es for a fee that could rise to €52m. The business is the Iberian state’s second largest internet bingo operator and the move improves the multi-channel proposition of Rank’s existing Spanish operations.
While the business is expected to endure a 6% earnings fall in the year to June, its rapidly-improving balance sheet and solid long term profits picture — it’s expected to rebound starting with a 5% earnings rise next year — means that dividends are still expected to keep rising at an electric rate.
Last year’s 7.3p per share reward is anticipated to rise to 7.9p in the outgoing period, and again to 8.5p in fiscal 2019. Consequently yields for these years stand at 4.3% and 4.5%, respectively.
Throw a dirt-cheap P/E ratio of 12.3 times for the upcoming year into the equation too, and I reckon Rank is a hugely attractive investment destination today.
I’m much less enamoured by the earnings and thus dividend prospects for DFS Furniture (LSE: DFS), however.
My pessimistic view is at odds with that of the broader market, however, as reflected by the retailer’s stunning share price ascent since the dying embers of March (its market value has swelled by a third since the release of full-year trading details back then). In fact, this spike makes me concerned that buyers have set themselves up for a fall as pressure on consumers’ spending power increases.
DFS’ latest trading statement may have matched broker expectations but should have given little reason for cheer. Had it not been for the positive contribution made by the Sofology acquisitions, sales would have fallen during the six months spanning August-January.
And who would back DFS to bounce back in the current climate? Certainly not City analysts who have downgraded their earnings estimates since the half-year results, and are now expecting a 6% bottom-line decline in the 12 months to July.
What’s more, this anticipated profits drop means that the firm’s progressive dividend policy will fall. DFS currently expected to hold the dividend at 11.2p per share. However, I reckon a possible cut cannot be ruled out given its ballooning debt pile (up £36.7m year-on-year to £172.3m in January) and its medicore medium-term earnings outlook.
A prospective forward P/E ratio of 13.2 times may make DFS cheap, but it’s cheap for a very good reason. I think investors should give the business an extremely wide berth in the current economic environment.
N Brown Group
Of course, N Brown Group (LSE: BWNG) isn’t immune to the same tough retail environment as DFS.
However, the special fit fashion retailer’s lack of exposure to so-called big ticket items like furniture, allied with its focus on the niche segment — namely the increasingly-popular plus-size segment – should allow revenues to stay broadly afloat despite declining consumer appetite.
Indeed, its strength was laid out in first quarter trading numbers this week in which the Simply Be brand owner noted that revenues grew 0.4% during the three months to June. N Brown’s resilience also pays testament to heavy restructuring that has seen it ditch its mail order model and embrace the e-commerce phenomenon.
And its move online printed a new chapter this week when the retailer announced it was considering closing all its 20 stores. N Brown now sources three quarters of total revenues via the internet and so this is a logical long-term step to keep costs down in an age of falling footfall up and down the high street.
The current travails for Britain’s retail sector means that earnings are expected to just flatline in the 12 months to February. On the plus side, however, the dividend is expected to be held at 14.23p per share, meaning investors can enjoy a 7.9% yield. And a bargain forward P/E ratio of 7.8 times puts the icing on the cake.
Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares 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.