When the World Health Organization announced that the world was experiencing a pandemic around March 2020, the regulator tightened restrictions to prevent federally regulated financial institutions like Manulife (TSX:MFC)(NYSE:MFC) from increasing their dividends. This is why the life and health insurance company froze its dividend for eight consecutive quarters.
When the regulator lifted the ban about a month ago, Manulife quickly announced a dividend increase of almost 17.9%. Its new quarterly dividend is C$0.33 per share, equating to an annualized payout of C$1.32 per share. The negative sentiment around the stock market in the last week pressured this dividend stock lower. Consequently, investors can now buy shares for a juicy dividend yield that’s flirting with 5.7%.
The dividend stock is not a darling
For some reason, Manulife stock tends to trade at a substantial discount to its peer, Sun Life (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF). Maybe it’s because of their different business mix. Sun Life’s business is much more diversified, leading to more quality earnings. Here’s an overview of Sun Life’s net income diversification.
High inflation is already upon us. As BBC News reported, the U.S. saw consumer prices jump 4.2% in the past 12 months. Price surges for certain goods can be even more ridiculous. Second-hand car prices rose 10% in April versus March.
A part of that had to do with the shortage (and consequential price rise) in basic materials like steel. The situation is similar for other raw materials like copper and lumber.
The Federal Reserve aims for a long-term inflation rate of 2%, as does the Bank of Canada. The Federal Reserve explains very well here how a stable rate of 2% helps with keeping maximum employment and consumer price stability. It further clarifies that an extended period of low inflation is likely to lead to a period of higher inflation (triggered by monetary policy), which is what we’re seeing now in both countries.
At the very minimum, Americans and Canadians need to ensure their savings are earning at least 2% a year from interest income. Of course, we can do better than that with dividend stocks.