The board of Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) has announced that it will pay a dividend of $0.30 per share on the 23rd of September. This makes the dividend yield 5.4%, which will augment investor returns quite nicely.
Big Lots' Dividend Is Well Covered By Earnings
While it is great to have a strong dividend yield, we should also consider whether the payment is sustainable. Before making this announcement, Big Lots was earning enough to cover the dividend, but it wasn't generating any free cash flows. In general, we consider cash flow to be more important than earnings, so we would be cautious about relying on the sustainability of this dividend.
Looking forward, earnings per share is forecast to rise exponentially over the next year. If the dividend extends its recent trend, estimates say the dividend could reach 12%, which we would be comfortable to see continuing.
Big Lots Is Still Building Its Track Record
Big Lots' dividend has been pretty stable for a little while now, but we will continue to be cautious until it has been demonstrated for a few more years. Since 2014, the annual payment back then was $0.68, compared to the most recent full-year payment of $1.20. This implies that the company grew its distributions at a yearly rate of about 7.4% over that duration. Investors will likely want to see a longer track record of growth before making decision to add this to their income portfolio.
Dividend Growth Is Doubtful
Some investors will be chomping at the bit to buy some of the company's stock based on its dividend history. Unfortunately things aren't as good as they seem. Over the past five years, it looks as though Big Lots' EPS has declined at around 7.8% a year. A modest decline in earnings isn't great, and it makes it quite unlikely that the dividend will grow in the future unless that trend can be reversed. However, the next year is actually looking up, with earnings set to rise. We would just wait until it becomes a pattern before getting too excited.
Big Lots' Dividend Doesn't Look Sustainable
In summary, while it's good to see that the dividend hasn't been cut, we are a bit cautious about Big Lots' payments, as there could be some issues with sustaining them into the future. While the low payout ratio is redeeming feature, this is offset by the minimal cash to cover the payments. We would probably look elsewhere for an income investment.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. For example, we've identified 3 warning signs for Big Lots (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing. Is Big Lots not quite the opportunity you were looking for? Why not check out our selection of top dividend stocks.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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