Today we'll take a closer look at Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.
A 2.6% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Hasbro has some staying power. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 0.7% of market capitalisation this year. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Hasbro for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.
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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Hasbro paid out 129% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Hasbro paid out 57% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business. It's disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and Hasbro fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we'd view this as a warning sign. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.
Is Hasbro's Balance Sheet Risky?
As Hasbro's dividend was not well covered by earnings, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Hasbro has net debt of 0.79 times its EBITDA, which is generally an okay level of debt for most companies.
Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. Net interest cover of 9.26 times its interest expense appears reasonable for Hasbro, although we're conscious that even high interest cover doesn't make a company bulletproof.
We update our data on Hasbro every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Hasbro'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$0.80 in 2010, compared to US$2.72 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 13% per year over this time.
It's rare to find a company that has grown its dividends rapidly over ten years and not had any notable cuts, but Hasbro has done it, which we really like.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Hasbro's EPS are effectively flat over the past five years. Over the long term, steady earnings per share is a risk as the value of the dividends can be reduced by inflation.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Hasbro's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. Moreover, earnings have been shrinking. While the dividends have been fairly steady, we'd wonder for how much longer this will be sustainable if earnings continue to decline. In summary, Hasbro has a number of shortcomings that we'd find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are a number of better ideas out there.
Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. Very few businesses see earnings consistently shrink year after year in perpetuity though, and so it might be worth seeing what the 7 analysts we track are forecasting for the future.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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