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Dividend paying stocks like Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:LECO) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested 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.
A 2.4% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Lincoln Electric Holdings has some staying power. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 5.3% of market capitalisation this year. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 37% of Lincoln Electric Holdings's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Lincoln Electric Holdings's cash payout ratio in the last year was 45%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It's positive to see that Lincoln Electric Holdings'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.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Lincoln Electric Holdings's dividend 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$0.54 in 2009, compared to US$1.88 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 13% a year over that time.
Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven't experienced any notable falls during this period.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Lincoln Electric Holdings has grown its earnings per share at 5.3% per annum over the past five years. It's good to see decent earnings growth and a low payout ratio. Companies with these characteristics often display the fastest dividend growth over the long term - assuming earnings can be maintained, of course.
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. It's great to see that Lincoln Electric Holdings is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. Earnings growth has been limited, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. Lincoln Electric Holdings performs highly under this analysis, although it falls slightly short of our exacting standards. At the right valuation, it could be a solid dividend prospect.
Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 11 analysts we track are forecasting for Lincoln Electric Holdings 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%.
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 email@example.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.