U.S. Markets close in 4 hrs 11 mins

Badger Meter, Inc. (NYSE:BMI) Has Got What It Takes To Be An Attractive Dividend Stock

Simply Wall St

Could Badger Meter, Inc. (NYSE:BMI) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

A slim 1.1% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Badger Meter could have potential. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Badger Meter!

NYSE:BMI Historical Dividend Yield, January 19th 2020

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, Badger Meter paid out 39% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Badger Meter's cash payout ratio last year was 24%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Badger Meter's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Badger Meter's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Badger Meter's dividend payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.22 in 2010, compared to US$0.68 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 12% a year over that time.

Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven't experienced any notable falls during this period.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Badger Meter has grown its earnings per share at 13% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing at a good rate, and the company is paying less than half its earnings as dividends. We generally think this is an attractive combination, as it permits further reinvestment in the business.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. It's great to see that Badger Meter is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. We like that it has been delivering solid improvement in its earnings per share, and relatively consistent dividend payments. Badger Meter has met all of our criteria, including having strong cash flow that covers the dividend. We definitely think it would be worthwhile looking closer.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 6 Badger Meter analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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.