Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it's exciting to see NIC Inc. (NASDAQ:EGOV) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. If you purchase the stock on or after the 5th of September, you won't be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 20th of September.
NIC's next dividend payment will be US$0.08 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$0.32 to shareholders. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that NIC has a trailing yield of 1.5% on the current share price of $20.82. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are typically paid out of company income, so if a company pays out more than it earned, its dividend is usually at a higher risk of being cut. Fortunately NIC's payout ratio is modest, at just 42% of profit. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Fortunately, it paid out only 46% of its free cash flow in the past year.
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.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. This is why it's a relief to see NIC earnings per share are up 9.4% per annum over the last five years. The company is retaining more than half of its earnings within the business, and it has been growing earnings at a decent rate. Organisations that reinvest heavily in themselves typically get stronger over time, which can bring attractive benefits such as stronger earnings and dividends.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. NIC has delivered an average of 2.5% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
Has NIC got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Earnings per share growth has been growing somewhat, and NIC is paying out less than half its earnings and cash flow as dividends. This is interesting for a few reasons, as it suggests management may be reinvesting heavily in the business, but it also provides room to increase the dividend in time. We would prefer to see earnings growing faster, but the best dividend stocks over the long term typically combine significant earnings per share growth with a low payout ratio, and NIC is halfway there. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
Curious what other investors think of NIC? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow .
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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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.