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What To Know Before Buying Farmers National Banc Corp. (NASDAQ:FMNB) For Its Dividend

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Simply Wall St
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Is Farmers National Banc Corp. (NASDAQ:FMNB) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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 2.6% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Farmers National Banc has some staying power. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 0.6% of its market capitalisation. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Farmers National Banc for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqCM:FMNB Historical Dividend Yield, November 6th 2019
NasdaqCM:FMNB Historical Dividend Yield, November 6th 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, Farmers National Banc paid out 29% of its profit as dividends. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.

We update our data on Farmers National Banc every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Farmers National Banc's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.48 in 2009, compared to US$0.40 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 1.8% per year over that time. Farmers National Banc's dividend has been cut sharply at least once, so it hasn't fallen by 1.8% every year, but this is a decent approximation of the long term change.

We struggle to make a case for buying Farmers National Banc for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past ten years.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. It's good to see Farmers National Banc has been growing its earnings per share at 25% a year over the past five years. With high earnings per share growth in recent times and a modest payout ratio, we think this is an attractive combination if earnings can be reinvested to generate 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. Firstly, we like that Farmers National Banc has a low and conservative payout ratio. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Farmers National Banc has a credible record on several fronts, but falls slightly short of our standards for a dividend stock.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 4 analysts we track are forecasting for Farmers National Banc 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.