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Is The Clorox Company's (NYSE:CLX) 2.6% Dividend Worth Your Time?

Simply Wall St

Could The Clorox Company (NYSE:CLX) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

A 2.6% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Clorox has some staying power. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 2.0% 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.

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NYSE:CLX Historical Dividend Yield, May 21st 2019

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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. Looking at the data, we can see that 62% of Clorox's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business - which could be good or bad.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. The company paid out 56% of its free cash flow, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash Clorox has available to meet other needs. 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.

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

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. Clorox has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$2.00 in 2009, compared to US$3.84 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 6.7% per year over this time.


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. Clorox has grown its earnings per share at 7.2% per annum over the past five years. The rate at which earnings have grown is quite decent, and by paying out more than half of its earnings as dividends, the company is striking a reasonable balance between reinvestment and returns to shareholders.

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 Clorox is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Earnings per share growth has been slow, but we respect a company that maintains a relatively stable dividend. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Clorox from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 14 analysts we track are forecasting for Clorox for free with public 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.