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Stryker Corporation's (NYSE:SYK) 1.1% Dividend Yield Looks Pretty Interesting

Simply Wall St

Is Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

A 1.1% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Stryker has some staying power. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 0.6% of its market capitalisation. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Stryker for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Stryker!

NYSE:SYK Historical Dividend Yield, January 16th 2020

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, 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. In the last year, Stryker paid out 23% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Stryker paid out a conservative 40% of its free cash flow as dividends last year. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.

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

Dividend Volatility

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. Stryker has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.40 in 2010, compared to US$2.30 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 19% a year over that time.

With rapid dividend growth and no notable cuts to the dividend over a lengthy period of time, we think this company has a lot going for it.

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. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Stryker has grown its earnings per share at 28% per annum 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 Stryker'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 Stryker has low and conservative payout ratios. Next, growing earnings per share and steady dividend payments is a great combination. Overall, we think there are a lot of positives to Stryker from a dividend perspective.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 26 analysts we track are forecasting for Stryker for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 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.