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Should You Buy Value Line, Inc. (NASDAQ:VALU) For Its Dividend?

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Dividend paying stocks like Value Line, Inc. (NASDAQ:VALU) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested 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.

While Value Line's 2.7% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Value Line for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqCM:VALU Historical Dividend Yield, December 17th 2019
NasdaqCM:VALU Historical Dividend Yield, December 17th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 60% of Value Line's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Value Line's financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. Value Line has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.60 in 2009, compared to US$0.80 last year. The dividend has shrunk at around 6.7% a year during that period. Value Line's dividend hasn't shrunk linearly at 6.7% per annum, but the CAGR is a useful estimate of the historical rate of change.

We struggle to make a case for buying Value Line for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past ten years.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that dividend payments have been shrinking like a glacier in a warming world, we need to check if there are some bright spots on the horizon. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Value Line has grown its earnings per share at 14% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly, but given that it is paying out more than half of its earnings as dividends, we wonder how Value Line will keep funding its growth projects in the future.

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. First, we think Value Line has an acceptable payout ratio. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In summary, we're unenthused by Value Line as a dividend stock. It's not that we think it is a bad company; it simply falls short of our criteria in some key areas.

Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Value Line management tenure, salary, and performance.

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.