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Have £2,000 to invest? This FTSE 250 8% dividend stock could help you retire early

Today I’m looking at two FTSE 250 stocks with the potential to deliver attractive long-term growth.

The first of these is FTSE 250 aviation and energy firm Stobart Group (LSE: STOB). This firm has been in the headlines recently as a result of boardroom infighting. But for investors, the stock’s main appeal is a substantial infrastructure property portfolio and an 8% dividend yield.

The Stobart name has strong brand recognition through its road haulage operations. But this business was floated into a separate stock market listing, Eddie Stobart Logistics, last year.

Stobart Group is now focused on running London Southend Airport, a small regional airline and an aviation services business. The group also runs an energy business supplying biomass fuel to UK power stations.

An affordable 8% yield?

Broker forecasts suggest Stobart will pay a dividend of 18.3p per share this year, giving a whopping forecast dividend yield of 8%. But the business is only expected to generate earnings of 4.6p per share. At first glance, the dividend looks unaffordable.

However, the secret to this bumper payout is the group’s portfolio of non-operated property assets. These are gradually being sold to fund the dividend.

While this process is ongoing, Stobart is investing in its airport and energy businesses. Management is targeting 5m passengers per year at Southend by 2022, up from “over one million” last year. Rapid growth may be helped by a recent deal with Ryanair to build an operating base at the airport.

The company also hopes to increase biomass volumes from 1.3m tonnes to 3m tonnes by 2022.

If these growth projects are successful, I think this business could deliver attractive gains for shareholders. As with any growth stock, there’s some risk involved. But progress appears good so far, so I’d rate Stobart as a speculative buy.

This could be a safer choice

FTSE 250 firm John Menzies (LSE: MNZS) also operates in the aviation services sector, providing a range of ground services at airports in the UK and overseas. This is a much bigger business than Stobart’s, with annual aviation-related nearly 10 times greater than the smaller firm’s.

Menzies is also known for its newspaper and magazine distribution operation, which makes early morning deliveries to retailers. But this division is in decline and being sold off, to leave behind a pure-play aviation business.

Aviation focus could boost growth

Today’s half-year results give us a flavour of what to expect. Half-year revenue from continuing business was £641m, with an underlying operating profit of £20.9m. This contributed 13p per share to group earnings of 25p per share.

The sale of the distribution business will result in some loss of earnings, but this should be offset over time by aviation earnings growth. Last year, profit margins in aviation were roughly twice as high as in distribution, so if this business continues to expand, profits could perform strongly.

In the meantime, the board plans to maintain the current dividend, which gives the stock a forecast yield of 3.2%.

As with Stobart Group, Menzies’ aviation business isn’t without risk. But air travel continues to be a growth market. This mid-cap firm is becoming quite a large player in the aviation services sector, which should help to control costs.

I’d consider these shares as a potential dividend growth buy.

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Roland Head 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.