Solar & Home Improvement Contractor Point-Of-Sale Lender Dividend Finance Announces New Lending Platform & Broader Loan Product Suite

 

Dividend Finance Inc., a U.S.-based fintech that specializes in point-of-sale lending to solar and home improvement contractors, announced on Wednesday the launch of a new technology platform. Founded in 2013, Dividend claims it is a leading national provider of renewable energy and energy-efficient financing solutions to property owners.

“We give our customers the opportunity to obtain clean energy financing through a comprehensive suite of financing options. Our flagship product, the EmpowerLoan™, continues to expand its product offerings into the storage and home-energy space.”

Dividend reported that in addition to a new solar + home improvement partner portal, it is now offering its solar contractors an array of new products and enhancements including:

  • Dividend Lite: a new single-page URL application
  • New solar loan terms, including a 25-year 2.99% APR, 20-year 1.49% APR, 15-year 1.49% APR, and 10-year 0.99% APR
  • Flexible credit criteria and funding requirements
  • Same-day approvals and project funding

Skyler Hopkins, Dividend’s SVP of Solar Sales, spoke about the products by adding:

“We’ve been listening to our contractor network and wanted to deliver a comprehensive overhaul in Q4 2020 with a diverse suite of loan product options, a more flexible point-of-sale experience, enhanced credit approvals, and a streamlined funding process.”

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Forget Coca-Cola, Home Depot Is a Better Dividend Stock

Finding a good dividend involves more than just screening for high yields and long track records of annual payout raises. Many blue chip businesses would show up in that search, but only a few of these stocks will end up generating the type of market-thumping returns that income investors are reaching for.

That fact shines through when stacking up two Dow giants, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD). While the beverage titan has plenty of attractive investment qualities, Home Depot looks like the better dividend stock right now.

A couple shopping for appliances.

Image source: Getty Images.

More ammunition

Sure, Coca-Cola pays a higher yield today, at over 3% compared with Home Depot’s 2%. But that gap is mainly due to investors’ judgments about the two companies diverging growth outlooks. Consumers are more focused on home improvements thanks to pandemic-related changes to shopping and work habits. These shifts have moved against Coke by severely limiting people’s mobility and densely attended events like concerts and sports.

Those limitations won’t last forever (Coke believes a full recovery might take less than two years). Yet it still seems likely that Home Depot will have more resources it can direct toward dividend boosts at least through 2021. The company last reported double-digit gains in both customer traffic and average spending per visit on the way to adding $8 billion of additional revenue to its sales base. Coke, in contrast, saw sales volumes drop 16% in the most recent quarter .

Dividend qualities

Home Depot was a more generous dividend payer even before the pandemic began supporting its finances in early 2020. Its last annual hike was 10%, compared with Coke’s 2.5%. Home Depot also targets returning over 50% of yearly earnings to shareholders as dividends. Rival Lowes (NYSE:LOW), on the other hand, targets a payout ratio of 35%.

That more-aggressive posture does come with extra risks. Home Depot paused payout hikes during the worst of the housing crisis in 2009 and 2010 while Lowe’s continued its modest increases. That’s why the chain doesn’t qualify as a Dividend Aristocrat today, while Coca-Cola easily meets those requirements.

Financial efficiency

Perhaps the best reason to love Home Depot as a dividend stock is its financial efficiency. Under CEO Craig Menear, the company has put together a stellar track record of spending that positioned it well for the current multichannel selling environment while aggressively buying back stock.

The combination of these trends allowed return on invested capital to hover near 40%. That’s well ahead of Coke’s 14% figure and good enough to keep Home Depot near the top of the entire market on that key financial metric.

Of course, these performance gaps aren’t a secret on Wall Street, and that fact helps explain why Home Depot shares have trounced the market in 2020 while Coke’s are lagging. The beverage giant might also attract investors who prefer to purchase excellent businesses that appear to be going through temporary slumps.

Yet Home Depot has earned its premium valuation through a wide

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Olive Garden Parent Darden Restaurants Just Reinstated Its Dividend

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Same-restaurant sales slid 28.2% at Darden’s Olive Garden chain.


Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg


Darden Restaurants

stock was rising in premarket trading Thursday, following the Olive Garden parent’s fiscal first-quarter earnings report. The company reinstated its dividend and returned to profitability, despite the headwind of Covid-19, and gave an upbeat forecast.

Darden (ticker: DRI) said it earned an adjusted 56 cents a share, on revenue that fell 28.4% year over year to $1.53 billion. Analysts were looking for Darden to earn just a nickel a share on revenue of $1.56 billion.

Same-restaurant sales slid 28.2% at its Olive Garden chain, 18.1% at LongHorn Steakhouse, and 39.1% at its fine-dining segment, which includes the Capital Grill.

Darden’s board of directors reinstated the quarterly cash dividend of 30 cents per share, for shareholders on record as of Oct. 9. The company also repaid a $270 million term loan in August, “given steadily improving cash flows in the quarter.” It said it has access to $1.4 billion of liquidity, including $655 million of cash on hand.

For the current quarter, Darden said it expects to earn between 65 and 75 cents a share on revenue of $1.685 billion; consensus estimates call for EPS of 37 cents on revenue of $1.77 billion

Darden shares were up 3.6% to $93.21 around 9 a.m. Eastern time even as

Dow Jones Industrial Average

futures fell 0.6%.

The quarter was much better than Darden—and analysts—had feared in June, when the company said it could break even or turn a small profit. At the time, consensus called for a 34-cent loss. So the better-than-anticipated profit—compared with a wide per-share loss in the prior period—is an obvious positive for investors.

Yet the market is likely just as pleased with the company’s dividend payment, as well as its decision to clear some debt, because that projects confidence about Darden’s capital position at a time when many peers are struggling.

Dine-in restaurants have largely been hit harder than fast-food and other delivery-oriented strategies, given their higher price points and many consumers’ reluctance to congregate indoors. Darden, though, has earned analyst praise for how it has handled Covid. While the stock is off more than 17% this year, it has more than tripled from its low this spring.

Write to Teresa Rivas at [email protected]

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