Macy's, Inc. (NYSE:M) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. The ex-dividend date occurs one day before the record date which is the day on which shareholders need to be on the company's books in order 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. This means that investors who purchase Macy's' shares on or after the 14th of September will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 3rd of October.
The company's upcoming dividend is US$0.16 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of US$0.63 per share to shareholders. Last year's total dividend payments show that Macy's has a trailing yield of 3.5% on the current share price of $18.21. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it's also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn't going to kill our golden goose! So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Macy's is paying out just 12% of its profit after tax, which is comfortably low and leaves plenty of breathing room in the case of adverse events. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. It paid out 16% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.
It's positive to see that Macy's'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.
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 business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. That's why it's comforting to see Macy's's earnings have been skyrocketing, up 23% per annum for the past five years. Macy's looks like a real growth company, with earnings per share growing at a cracking pace and the company reinvesting most of its profits in the business.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Macy's has delivered 4.6% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. It's good to see both earnings and the dividend have improved - although the former has been rising much quicker than the latter, possibly due to the company reinvesting more of its profits in growth.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Macy's? It's great that Macy's is growing earnings per share while simultaneously paying out a low percentage of both its earnings and cash flow. It's disappointing to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, but as things stand now, the low payout ratio suggests a conservative approach to dividends, which we like. It's a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
While it's tempting to invest in Macy's for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Macy's (including 1 which shouldn't be ignored).
A common investing mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a full list of high-yield dividend stocks.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.
Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here