Today we'll take a closer look at Piper Sandler Companies (NYSE:PIPR) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. 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.
Some readers mightn't know much about Piper Sandler Companies's 3.0% dividend, as it has only been paying distributions for the last three years. Many of the best dividend stocks typically start out paying a low yield, so we wouldn't automatically cut it from our list of prospects. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 3.7% of its market capitalisation. Remember that the recent share price drop will make Piper Sandler Companies's yield look higher, even though recent events might have impacted the company's prospects. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Piper Sandler Companies for its dividend - read on to learn more.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. 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, Piper Sandler Companies paid out 41% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.
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. This company's dividend has been unstable, and with a relatively short history, we think it's a little soon to draw strong conclusions about its long term dividend potential. During the past three-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.25 in 2017, compared to US$1.55 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 7.4% per year over this time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.
A reasonable rate of dividend growth is good to see, but we're wary that the dividend history is not as solid as we'd like, having been cut at least once.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there's a good chance of bigger dividends in future? Piper Sandler Companies's EPS are effectively flat over the past five years. Over the long term, steady earnings per share is a risk as the value of the dividends can be reduced by inflation.
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. We're glad to see Piper Sandler Companies has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Earnings per share are down, and Piper Sandler Companies's dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. Piper Sandler Companies might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 3 warning signs for Piper Sandler Companies that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.
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