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Is Newell Brands Inc. (NASDAQ:NWL) An Attractive Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Is Newell Brands Inc. (NASDAQ:NWL) 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 stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Newell Brands. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 12% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Newell Brands for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

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NasdaqGS:NWL Historical Dividend Yield, January 15th 2020

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. While Newell Brands pays a dividend, it reported a loss over the last year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Newell Brands paid out 62% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business.

Is Newell Brands's Balance Sheet Risky?

Given Newell Brands is paying a dividend but reported a loss over the past year, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Newell Brands has net debt of 6.21 times its EBITDA, which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 1.58 times its interest expense, Newell Brands's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them, and we're reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Newell Brands's financial position 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. Newell Brands has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.42 in 2010, compared to US$0.92 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8.2% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 8.2% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

It's good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Newell Brands might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. Over the past five years, it looks as though Newell Brands's EPS have declined at around 59% a year. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.

Conclusion

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. We're not keen on the fact that Newell Brands paid dividends despite reporting a loss over the past year, although fortunately its dividend was covered by cash flow. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Using these criteria, Newell Brands looks quite suboptimal from a dividend investment perspective.

Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. Very few businesses see earnings consistently shrink year after year in perpetuity though, and so it might be worth seeing what the 9 analysts we track are forecasting for the future.

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.