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How You Find Really Good Dividend Bargains On The Market

What to look for when your try to find real dividend paying bargains that might deliver a solid return in the future? I've compiled a few essential factors to look at when you put your money into the market.

Once you've identified stocks that appear cheap for reasons that aren't company specific, it's time to do a little more digging. 

For starters, you'll want to ask the following questions:

- Does the company have a strong history of increasing its dividend? There are many companies that have increased their dividends for decades, but it's not a requirement. You simply want to verify that the company makes an effort to increase shareholders' income over time, and doesn't have a history of dividend cuts or suspended payments.

- Does the company have a reasonable payout ratio that will sustain the dividend? A payout ratio tells you how much of the company's income is paid out as dividends, and the lower this number is, the easier the dividend is to sustain. For example, if a company earns $3.00 per share and pays a dividend of $1.00, its payout ratio is 33% -- which leaves plenty of room for increases, as well as a nice cushion if income suffers during a recession.

- Is the company's debt load reasonable and manageable -- even if times get tough? A "reasonable" debt load is open to interpretation, and some companies can responsibly borrow more than others. A good metric to look at is the company's interest coverage, which tells you how much the company earns for every dollar in interest expenses. For example, if a company's interest coverage is five-to-one, it can absorb a huge drop in revenue before paying its debt becomes a problem.

- Is the company's income steady and (reasonably) predictable? While it's impossible to accurately project a company's future income, there should be a steady pattern of earnings growth, as well as absorbing tough times without much of an earnings drop.

However, attached are 20 dividend growth stock ideas that might fulfill some of the criteria to find an attractive investment target.

There is no perfect stock but some companies come close to it.

Which companies to you like?

How You Find Really Good Dividend Bargains On The Market -
A Bakest of Cheap Dividend Growers on the Market (click to enlarge)