Marshalls (LON:MSLH) Has Announced That It Will Be Increasing Its Dividend To £0.099
The board of Marshalls plc (LON:MSLH) has announced that it will be paying its dividend of £0.099 on the 3rd of July, an increased payment from last year's comparable dividend. This makes the dividend yield 5.0%, which is above the industry average.
See our latest analysis for Marshalls
Marshalls' Earnings Easily Cover The Distributions
Impressive dividend yields are good, but this doesn't matter much if the payments can't be sustained. Based on the last payment, Marshalls' profits didn't cover the dividend, but the company was generating enough cash instead. Generally, we think cash is more important than accounting measures of profit, so with the cash flows easily covering the dividend, we don't think there is much reason to worry.
Looking forward, earnings per share is forecast to rise by 159.6% over the next year. Assuming the dividend continues along the course it has been charting recently, our estimates show the payout ratio being 60% which brings it into quite a comfortable range.
While the company has been paying a dividend for a long time, it has cut the dividend at least once in the last 10 years. Since 2013, the dividend has gone from £0.0525 total annually to £0.156. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 12% a year over that time. Marshalls has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, so we would be cautious about buying this stock solely for the dividend income.
The Dividend Has Limited Growth Potential
Growing earnings per share could be a mitigating factor when considering the past fluctuations in the dividend. Marshalls' earnings per share has shrunk at 13% a year over the past five years. Such rapid declines definitely have the potential to constrain dividend payments if the trend continues into the future. On the bright side, earnings are predicted to gain some ground over the next year, but until this turns into a pattern we wouldn't be feeling too comfortable.
An additional note is that the company has been raising capital by issuing stock equal to 27% of shares outstanding in the last 12 months. Trying to grow the dividend when issuing new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus - perpetually pushing a boulder uphill. Companies that consistently issue new shares are often suboptimal from a dividend perspective.
Marshalls' Dividend Doesn't Look Sustainable
In summary, while it's always good to see the dividend being raised, we don't think Marshalls' payments are rock solid. The payments haven't been particularly stable and we don't see huge growth potential, but with the dividend well covered by cash flows it could prove to be reliable over the short term. We would be a touch cautious of relying on this stock primarily for the dividend income.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 4 warning signs for Marshalls that investors need to be conscious of moving forward. If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of high yield dividend stocks.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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