Today we'll take a closer look at Ross Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.
A slim 0.9% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Ross Stores could have potential. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 3.1% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. In the last year, Ross Stores paid out 22% of its profit as dividends. We like this low payout ratio, because it implies the dividend is well covered and leaves ample opportunity for reinvestment.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Ross Stores's cash payout ratio last year was 24%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. 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.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Ross Stores's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
We update our data on Ross Stores every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Ross Stores's dividend payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.11 in 2010, compared to US$1.02 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 25% a year over that time.
With rapid dividend growth and no notable cuts to the dividend over a lengthy period of time, we think this company has a lot going for it.
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 Ross Stores has grown its earnings per share at 18% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share are growing at a solid clip, and the payout ratio is low. We think this is an ideal combination in a dividend stock.
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 like that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. That said, we were glad to see it growing earnings and paying a fairly consistent dividend. All these things considered, we think this organisation has a lot going for it from a dividend perspective.
Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 24 Ross Stores analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.
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 email@example.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.
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