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Is Park National Corporation (NYSEMKT:PRK) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Simply Wall St

Could Park National Corporation (NYSEMKT:PRK) 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. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

In this case, Park National likely looks attractive to investors, given its 4.0% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 2.5% of its market capitalisation. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Park National for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Park National!

AMEX:PRK Historical Dividend Yield, November 19th 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. Park National paid out 61% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business - which could be good or bad.

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

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. Park National has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of 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$3.76 in 2009, compared to US$4.04 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. Park National has grown its earnings per share at 5.6% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share are growing at an acceptable rate, although the company is paying out more than half of its profits, which we think could constrain its ability to reinvest in its business.

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. Park National's payout ratio is within an average range for most market participants. Second, earnings growth has been mediocre, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. Park National might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 4 Park National 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 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.