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Should Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc. (NYSE:HVT) Be Part Of Your Dividend Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

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Could Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc. (NYSE:HVT) 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 popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

In this case, Haverty Furniture Companies likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 4.0% dividend yield and seven-year payment history. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 4.5% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Haverty Furniture Companies for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:HVT Historical Dividend Yield, May 29th 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. In the last year, Haverty Furniture Companies paid out 54% of its profit as dividends. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Of the free cash flow it generated last year, Haverty Furniture Companies paid out 30% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable. It's positive to see that Haverty Furniture Companies's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Haverty Furniture Companies'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. Looking at the data, we can see that Haverty Furniture Companies has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we're conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.16 in 2012, compared to US$0.72 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 24% per year over this time.

We're not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.

Dividend Growth Potential

Examining whether the dividend is affordable and stable is important. However, it's also important to assess if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. While there may be fluctuations in the past , Haverty Furniture Companies's earnings per share have basically not grown from where they were five years ago. Over the long term, steady earnings per share is a risk as the value of the dividends can be reduced by inflation.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Haverty Furniture Companies's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we think Haverty Furniture Companies has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and the dividend history is shorter than we'd like. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Haverty Furniture Companies 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.

Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 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.