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Should Shoe Carnival, Inc. (NASDAQ:SCVL) Be Part Of Your Dividend Portfolio?

Simply Wall St

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Could Shoe Carnival, Inc. (NASDAQ:SCVL) 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 1.2% yield and a seven-year payment history, investors probably think Shoe Carnival looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.2% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 13% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Shoe Carnival for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqGS:SCVL Historical Dividend Yield, June 14th 2019

Payout ratios

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, Shoe Carnival paid out 12% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Shoe Carnival's cash payout ratio last year was 14%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. It's positive to see that Shoe Carnival's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

We update our data on Shoe Carnival every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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 Shoe Carnival has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. The dividend has been quite stable over the past seven 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 seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.20 in 2012, compared to US$0.32 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 6.9% per year over this 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 Shoe Carnival has not achieved yet.

Dividend Growth Potential

Examining whether the dividend is affordable and stable is important. However, it's also important to assess if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient's purchasing power. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Shoe Carnival has grown its earnings per share at 15% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share are growing at a solid clip, and the payout ratio is low. We think this is an ideal combination in a dividend stock.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Shoe Carnival's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we like that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. Overall we think Shoe Carnival scores well on our analysis. It's not quite perfect, but we'd definitely be keen to take a closer look.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 4 analysts we track are forecasting for Shoe Carnival for free with public 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.