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Is Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ:PNFP) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Simply Wall St

Dividend paying stocks like Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ:PNFP) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

Investors might not know much about Pinnacle Financial Partners's dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last six years and offers a 1.0% yield. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. The company also returned around 1.5% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqGS:PNFP Historical Dividend Yield, January 8th 2020

Payout ratios

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. Looking at the data, we can see that 12% of Pinnacle Financial Partners's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. We'd say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.

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

Dividend Volatility

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Pinnacle Financial Partners has been paying a dividend for the past six years. The dividend has been quite stable over the past six years, which is great to see - although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. During the past six-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.32 in 2014, compared to US$0.64 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 12% per year over this time.

The dividend has been growing pretty quickly, which could be enough to get us interested even though the dividend history is relatively short. Further research may be warranted.

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. It's good to see Pinnacle Financial Partners has been growing its earnings per share at 25% a year over the past five years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly - an ideal combination.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Pinnacle Financial Partners's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that Pinnacle Financial Partners has a low and conservative payout ratio. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. Pinnacle Financial Partners has a number of positive attributes, but falls short of our ideal dividend company. It may be worth a look at the right price, though.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 8 analysts we track are forecasting for Pinnacle Financial Partners for free with public 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%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.