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Today we'll take a closer look at Microchip Technology Incorporated (NASDAQ:MCHP) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
A slim 1.8% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Microchip Technology could have potential. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Microchip Technology paid out 97% of its profit as dividends. With a payout ratio this high, we'd say its dividend is not well covered by earnings. This may be fine if earnings are growing, but it might not take much of a downturn for the dividend to come under pressure.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Microchip Technology paid out 24% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservative and suggests the dividend is sustainable. While the dividend was not well covered by profits, at least they were covered by free cash flow. Still, if the company continues paying out such a high percentage of its profits, the dividend could be at risk if business turns sour.
Is Microchip Technology's Balance Sheet Risky?
As Microchip Technology's dividend was not well covered by earnings, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures a company's total debt load relative to its earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the company's ability to pay the interest on its debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Microchip Technology is carrying net debt of 4.86 times its EBITDA, which is getting towards the upper limit of our comfort range on a dividend stock that the investor hopes will endure a wide range of economic circumstances.
Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. Interest cover of less than 5x its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Microchip Technology, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Microchip Technology's dividend 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$1.36 in 2009, compared to US$1.46 last year. Its dividends have grown at less than 1% per annum over this time frame.
While the consistency in the dividend payments is impressive, we think the relatively slow rate of growth is unappealing.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. It's not great to see that Microchip Technology's have fallen at approximately 5.4% over the past five years. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company's dividend.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Microchip Technology's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. It's not great to see earnings per share shrinking. The dividends have been relatively consistent, but we wonder for how much longer this will be true. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Microchip Technology out there.
Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting for the company.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.