It looks like MSC Industrial Direct Co., Inc. (NYSE:MSM) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 21st of January will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 5th of February.
The upcoming dividend for MSC Industrial Direct is US$5.75 per share, increased from last year's total dividends per share of US$3.00. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether MSC Industrial Direct's dividend is reliable and sustainable. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. MSC Industrial Direct paid out more than half (54%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Dividends consumed 54% of the company's free cash flow last year, which is within a normal range for most dividend-paying organisations.
It's positive to see that MSC Industrial Direct's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. This is why it's a relief to see MSC Industrial Direct earnings per share are up 6.1% per annum over the last five years. While earnings have been growing at a credible rate, the company is paying out a majority of its earnings to shareholders. If management lifts the payout ratio further, we'd take this as a tacit signal that the company's growth prospects are slowing.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. MSC Industrial Direct has delivered an average of 14% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past ten years of dividend payments. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
To Sum It Up
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid MSC Industrial Direct? Earnings per share have been growing modestly and MSC Industrial Direct paid out a bit over half of its earnings and free cash flow last year. In summary, while it has some positive characteristics, we're not inclined to race out and buy MSC Industrial Direct today.
Wondering what the future holds for MSC Industrial Direct? See what the 12 analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.