Is MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
With a 1.1% yield and a nine-year payment history, investors probably think MGP Ingredients looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.1% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 0.9% of its market capitalisation. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
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. Looking at the data, we can see that 17% of MGP Ingredients's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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. MGP Ingredients's cash payout ratio in the last year was 30%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. 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.
Consider getting our latest analysis on MGP Ingredients's financial position here.
Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that MGP Ingredients paid its first dividend at least nine years ago. Although it has been paying a dividend for several years now, the dividend has been cut at least once, and we're cautious about the consistency of its dividend across a full economic cycle. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.05 in 2011, compared to US$0.40 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 26% a year over that time. MGP Ingredients's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 26% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.
So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.
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 MGP Ingredients has grown its earnings per share at 14% per annum over the past five years. Rapid earnings growth and a low payout ratio suggests this company has been effectively reinvesting in its business. Should that continue, this company could have a bright future.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that MGP Ingredients's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that MGP Ingredients has low and conservative payout ratios. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Overall we think MGP Ingredients scores well on our analysis. It's not quite perfect, but we'd definitely be keen to take a closer look.
Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in MGP Ingredients in our latest insider ownership analysis.
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.
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.