Why You Should Buy BCE After Another Dividend Hike

BCE (TSX:BCE)(NYSE:BCE) is one of the top telecommunications companies in Canada. Like many of its industry peers, BCE has been a reliable dividend payer for years. Its shares have climbed 16% year-over-year as of close on February 21.

The company released its fourth quarter and full-year results for 2019 on February 6. BCE is set to push ahead with the development of its 5G network in the coming months. It is partnering with the Finnish multinational Nokia (NYSE:NOK). Beyond this exciting announcement, 2019 was another strong one for BCE.

Operating revenues rose 2.1% year-over-year in 2019 to $23.9 billion. Adjusted EBITDA climbed 6% to $10.1 billion while adjusted earnings were mostly flat at $3.1 billion. Free cash flow increased 7% from 2018 to $3.8 billion.

There was more good news for income investors in BCE’s Q4 report. BCE announced a 5% hike in its quarterly dividend to $0.8325 per share. This represents a strong 5.1% yield. It is also the 12th consecutive year that BCE has achieved dividend growth.

BCE is trading close to a 52-week high, so why is it still worth buying? Shares are still good value for investors right now. It possessed a price-to-earnings ratio of 19 and a price-to-book value of 3.4 as of close on February 21.

This is favourable value territory relative to its industry peers. The only drawback is BCE’s high debt level it has carried into 2020. Even still, I still love this dividend stock in late February.