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You Have To Love Ovintiv Inc.'s (TSE:OVV) Dividend

Simply Wall St
·4 min read

Is Ovintiv Inc. (TSE:OVV) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? 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.

While Ovintiv's 2.4% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 31% of market capitalisation this year. Remember though, given the recent drop in its share price, Ovintiv's yield will look higher, even though the market may now be expecting a decline in its long-term prospects. 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

TSX:OVV Historical Dividend Yield, February 5th 2020
TSX:OVV Historical Dividend Yield, February 5th 2020

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. Ovintiv paid out 6.8% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. 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. Of the free cash flow it generated last year, Ovintiv paid out 27% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable. 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 Ovintiv 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 Ovintiv's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$8.00 in 2010, compared to US$0.38 last year. Dividend payments have fallen sharply, down 95% over that time.

A shrinking dividend over a ten-year period is not ideal, and we'd be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it's even more important to see if EPS are growing. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Ovintiv has grown its earnings per share at 27% 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

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. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Ovintiv performs highly under this analysis, although it falls slightly short of our exacting standards. At the right valuation, it could be a solid dividend prospect.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 12 analysts we track are forecasting for Ovintiv 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%.

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.