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Is Ingredion Incorporated (NYSE:INGR) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Ingredion Incorporated (NYSE:INGR) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

A slim 3.0% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Ingredion could have potential. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 8.4% 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.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:INGR Historical Dividend Yield, November 27th 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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Ingredion paid out 42% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Ingredion paid out 65% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. 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.

We update our data on Ingredion every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, 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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Ingredion'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$0.56 in 2009, compared to US$2.52 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 16% a year over that time.

It's rare to find a company that has grown its dividends rapidly over ten years and not had any notable cuts, but Ingredion has done it, which we really like.

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. Ingredion has grown its earnings per share at 2.9% per annum over the past five years. Ingredion is paying out less than half of its earnings, which we like. Earnings per share growth have grown slowly, which is not great, but if the retained earnings can be reinvested effectively, future growth may be stronger.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Ingredion's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Above all, we're glad to see that Ingredion pays out a low fraction of its earnings and, while it paid a higher percentage of cashflow, this also was within a normal range. Earnings growth has been limited, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. Ingredion has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 6 Ingredion 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 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.

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. Thank you for reading.