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What To Know Before Buying STMicroelectronics N.V. (EPA:STM) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

Could STMicroelectronics N.V. (EPA:STM) 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. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

A slim 1.2% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, STMicroelectronics could have potential. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 1.2% of its market capitalisation. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying STMicroelectronics for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

ENXTPA:STM Historical Dividend Yield, October 2nd 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, 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, STMicroelectronics paid out 19% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. STMicroelectronics paid out 52% 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.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note STMicroelectronics's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of STMicroelectronics's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. STMicroelectronics has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of 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$0.12 in 2009, compared to US$0.24 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 7.2% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 7.2% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

A reasonable rate of dividend growth is good to see, but we're wary that the dividend history is not as solid as we'd like, having been cut at least once.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see STMicroelectronics has grown its earnings per share at 59% per annum over the past five years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly - an ideal combination.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company's dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. Firstly, we like that STMicroelectronics pays out a low fraction of earnings. It pays out a higher percentage of its cashflow, although this is within acceptable bounds. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. STMicroelectronics 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.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 19 analysts we track are forecasting for STMicroelectronics for free with public analyst estimates 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.