Is Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) a good dividend stock? How would you know? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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 1.8% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Oracle has some staying power. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 18% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.
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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. 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. Oracle paid out 27% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Oracle's cash payout ratio last year was 24%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Oracle's financial position here.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Oracle'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$0.20 in 2009, compared to US$0.96 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 17% per year over this time.
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. Oracle has grown its earnings per share at 4.5% per annum over the past five years. A payout ratio below 50% leaves ample room to reinvest in the business, and provides finanical flexibility. Earnings per share growth have grown slowly, which is not great, but if the retained earnings can be reinvested effectively, future growth may be stronger.
When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. First, we like that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. Earnings per share growth has been slow, but we respect a company that maintains a relatively stable dividend. Overall we think Oracle scores well on our analysis. It's not quite perfect, but we'd definitely be keen to take a closer look.
Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 33 Oracle analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates 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.