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Should Owens Corning (NYSE:OC) Be Part Of Your Dividend Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

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Could Owens Corning (NYSE:OC) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. 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.

With a 1.7% yield and a five-year payment history, investors probably think Owens Corning looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.7% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 3.4% 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.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:OC Historical Dividend Yield, May 13th 2019

Payout ratios

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. 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. In the last year, Owens Corning paid out 19% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Owens Corning paid out a conservative 44% of its free cash flow as dividends last year.


Is Owens Corning's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Owens Corning has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick way to check a company's financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and 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). With net debt of above 3x EBITDA, investors are starting to take on a meaningful amount of risk, should the business enter a downturn.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Net interest cover of 6.43 times its interest expense appears reasonable for Owens Corning, although we're conscious that even high interest cover doesn't make a company bulletproof.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Owens Corning's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

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. Owens Corning has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.64 in 2014, compared to US$0.88 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.6% a year over that time.

The dividend has been growing at a reasonable rate, which we like. We're conscious though that one of the best ways to detect a multi-decade consistent dividend payer, is to watch a company pay dividends for 20 years - a distinction Owens Corning has not achieved yet.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Owens Corning has grown its earnings per share at 21% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have grown rapidly, and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings. We think this is ideal from an investment perspective, if the company is able to reinvest these earnings effectively.

Conclusion

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. Firstly, we like that Owens Corning has low and conservative payout ratios. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. Overall we think Owens Corning 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 16 Owens Corning analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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 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. Thank you for reading.