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Should First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) Be Part Of Your Portfolio?

Jodi Pearce

Dividends play a key role in compounding returns over time and can form a large part of our portfolio return. Historically, First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) has paid a dividend to shareholders. It currently yields 2.4%. Does First Merchants tick all the boxes of a great dividend stock? Below, I’ll take you through my analysis.

See our latest analysis for First Merchants

How I analyze a dividend stock

When researching a dividend stock, I always follow the following screening criteria:

  • Is its annual yield among the top 25% of dividend-paying companies?
  • Has it consistently paid a stable dividend without missing a payment or drastically cutting payout?
  • Has dividend per share risen in the past couple of years?
  • Is is able to pay the current rate of dividends from its earnings?
  • Will it be able to continue to payout at the current rate in the future?
NasdaqGS:FRME Historical Dividend Yield January 9th 19

Does First Merchants pass our checks?

The company currently pays out 28% of its earnings as a dividend, according to its trailing twelve-month data, meaning the dividend is sufficiently covered by earnings. Going forward, analysts expect FRME’s payout to remain around the same level at 29% of its earnings. Assuming a constant share price, this equates to a dividend yield of 2.8%. Moreover, EPS should increase to $3.36.

If you want to dive deeper into the sustainability of a certain payout ratio, you may wish to consider the cash flow of the business. Cash flow is important because companies with strong cash flow can usually sustain higher payout ratios.

If there is one thing that you want to be reliable in your life, it’s dividend stocks and their constant income stream. Not only have dividend payouts from First Merchants fallen over the past 10 years, it has also been highly volatile during this time, with drops of over 25% in some years. These characteristics do not bode well for income investors seeking reliable stream of dividends.

Compared to its peers, First Merchants has a yield of 2.4%, which is on the low-side for Banks stocks.

Next Steps:

Taking all the above into account, First Merchants is a complicated pick for dividend investors given that there are a couple of positive things about it as well as negative. However, if you are not strictly just a dividend investor, the stock could still offer some interesting investment opportunities. Given that this is purely a dividend analysis, I urge potential investors to try and get a good understanding of the underlying business and its fundamentals before deciding on an investment. There are three essential factors you should look at:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for FRME’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for FRME’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is FRME worth today? Even if the stock is a cash cow, it’s not worth an infinite price. The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether FRME is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Dividend Rockstars: Are there better dividend payers with stronger fundamentals out there? Check out our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.