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Tread With Caution Around PCTEL, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PCTI) 3.9% Dividend Yield

Simply Wall St
·5 mins read

Could PCTEL, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCTI) 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 popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if PCTEL is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. Remember though, given the recent drop in its share price, PCTEL's yield will look higher, even though the market may now be expecting a decline in its long-term prospects. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying PCTEL for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqGS:PCTI Historical Dividend Yield April 15th 2020
NasdaqGS:PCTI Historical Dividend Yield April 15th 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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 105% of PCTEL's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. PCTEL's cash payout ratio in the last year was 47%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It's good to see that while PCTEL's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we'd view this as a warning sign. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.

With a strong net cash balance, PCTEL investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

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

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that PCTEL paid its first dividend at least eight years ago. The dividend has been quite stable over the past eight 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 eight-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.12 in 2012, compared to US$0.22 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 7.9% per year over this time.

PCTEL has been growing its dividend at a decent rate, and the payments have been stable despite the short payment history. This is a positive start.

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. In the last five years, PCTEL's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 3.7% per annum. If earnings continue to decline, the dividend may come under pressure. Every investor should make an assessment of whether the company is taking steps to stabilise the situation.

Conclusion

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 not keen on the fact that PCTEL paid out such a high percentage of its income, although its cashflow is in better shape. Earnings per share are down, and to our mind PCTEL has not been paying a dividend long enough to demonstrate its resilience across economic cycles. In summary, PCTEL has a number of shortcomings that we'd find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are likely more attractive alternatives out there.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. Just as an example, we've come accross 4 warning signs for PCTEL you should be aware of, and 1 of them doesn't sit too well with us.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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.