Dividend paying stocks like Methode Electronics, Inc. (NYSE:MEI) 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. 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 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, Methode Electronics could have potential. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Methode Electronics for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.
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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. Methode Electronics paid out 17% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. We'd say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Of the free cash flow it generated last year, Methode Electronics paid out 29% 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.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Methode Electronics's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. Methode Electronics has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of 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$0.28 in 2009, compared to US$0.44 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 4.6% per year over this time.
Slow and steady dividend growth might not sound that exciting, but dividends have been stable for ten years, which we think is seriously impressive.
Dividend Growth Potential
While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. While there may be fluctuations in the past , Methode Electronics's earnings per share have basically not grown from where they were five years ago. Flat earnings per share are acceptable for a time, but over the long term, the purchasing power of the company's dividends could be eroded by inflation. So, we know earnings growth has been thin on the ground. However, at least the payout ratio is conservative, and there is plenty of potential to increase this over time.
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. First, we like that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. Earnings not been growing, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. Overall we think Methode Electronics scores well on our analysis. It's not quite perfect, but we'd definitely be keen to take a closer look.
Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 3 analysts we track are forecasting for Methode Electronics for free with public 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 email@example.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.
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