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Here's How We Evaluate Paychex, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PAYX) Dividend

Simply Wall St

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Is Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ:PAYX) a good dividend stock? How would you know? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

A slim 2.6% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Paychex could have potential. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Paychex for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Paychex!

NasdaqGS:PAYX Historical Dividend Yield, June 17th 2019

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. In the last year, Paychex paid out 84% of its profit as dividends. Paying out a majority of its earnings limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate a commitment to paying a dividend, or a dearth of investment opportunities.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Paychex paid out 68% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. It's positive to see that Paychex'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 Paychex'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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Paychex's dividend 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$1.24 in 2009, compared to US$2.24 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 6.1% per year over this time.

Companies like this, growing their dividend at a decent rate, can be very valuable over the long term, if the rate of growth can be maintained.

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. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Paychex has grown its earnings per share at 11% per annum over the past five years. EPS are growing rapidly, although the company is also paying out more than three-quarters of its profits as dividends. If earnings keep growing, the dividend may be sustainable, but generally we'd prefer to see a fast growing company reinvest in further growth.

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. Paychex's is paying out more than half its income as dividends, but at least the dividend is covered by both reported earnings and cashflow. Next, growing earnings per share and steady dividend payments is a great combination. Overall we think Paychex is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 16 analysts we track are forecasting for Paychex 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.