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Is BankUnited, Inc. (NYSE:BKU) An Attractive Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

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Could BankUnited, Inc. (NYSE:BKU) 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. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

With a 2.5% yield and a eight-year payment history, investors probably think BankUnited looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 2.5% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 8.6% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:BKU Historical Dividend Yield, June 12th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 29% of BankUnited's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

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

Dividend Volatility

From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. The first recorded dividend for BankUnited, in the last decade, was eight years ago. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we're conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past eight-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.56 in 2011, compared to US$0.84 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 5.2% a year over that time.

The dividend has been growing at a reasonable rate, which we like. We're conscious though that one of the best ways to detect a multi-decade consistent dividend-payer, is to watch a company pay dividends for 20 years - a distinction BankUnited has not achieved yet.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. BankUnited has grown its earnings per share at 7.3% per annum over the past five years. It's good to see decent earnings growth and a low payout ratio. Companies with these characteristics often display the fastest dividend growth over the long term - assuming earnings can be maintained, of course.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that BankUnited's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that BankUnited has a low and conservative payout ratio. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is shorter than we'd like. BankUnited might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 11 BankUnited analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.