Readers hoping to buy PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. The ex-dividend date is one business day before a company's record date, which is the date on which the company determines which shareholders are entitled to receive a dividend. The ex-dividend date is of consequence because whenever a stock is bought or sold, the trade takes at least two business day to settle. Therefore, if you purchase PepsiCo's shares on or after the 30th of November, you won't be eligible to receive the dividend, when it is paid on the 5th of January.
The company's next dividend payment will be US$1.27 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of US$5.06 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, PepsiCo has a trailing yield of 3.0% on the current stock price of $169.37. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is 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. It paid out 80% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. It could become a concern if earnings started to decline. A useful secondary check can be to evaluate whether PepsiCo generated enough free cash flow to afford its dividend. It paid out 94% of its free cash flow in the form of dividends last year, which is outside the comfort zone for most businesses. Companies usually need cash more than they need earnings - expenses don't pay themselves - so it's not great to see it paying out so much of its cash flow.
While PepsiCo's dividends were covered by the company's reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it's not great to see that the company didn't generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to PepsiCo's ability to maintain its dividend.
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 earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. For this reason, we're glad to see PepsiCo's earnings per share have risen 12% per annum over the last five years. Earnings have been growing at a decent rate, but we're concerned dividend payments consumed most of the company's cash flow over the past year.
The main way most investors will assess a company's dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. In the past 10 years, PepsiCo has increased its dividend at approximately 8.9% a year on average. It's encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
The Bottom Line
Is PepsiCo an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's good to see that earnings per share are growing and that the company's payout ratio is within a normal range for most businesses. However we're somewhat concerned that it paid out 94% of its cashflow, which is uncomfortably high. Overall, it's not a bad combination, but we feel that there are likely more attractive dividend prospects out there.
However if you're still interested in PepsiCo as a potential investment, you should definitely consider some of the risks involved with PepsiCo. For example, we've found 3 warning signs for PepsiCo that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.
If you're in the market for strong dividend payers, we recommend checking our selection of top dividend stocks.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.