Readers hoping to buy Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. If you purchase the stock on or after the 18th of February, you won’t be eligible to receive this dividend, when it is paid on the 11th of March.
Applied Materials’s next dividend payment will be US$0.21 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$0.84 per share. Last year’s total dividend payments show that Applied Materials has a trailing yield of 1.2% on the current share price of $67.37. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. Applied Materials paid out just 21% of its profit last year, which we think is conservatively low and leaves plenty of margin for unexpected circumstances. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 26% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
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.
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 earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. That’s why it’s comforting to see Applied Materials’s earnings have been skyrocketing, up 28% per annum for the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing very quickly, and the company is paying out a relatively low percentage of its profit and cash flow. This is a very favourable combination that can often lead to the dividend multiplying over the long term, if earnings grow and the company pays out a higher percentage of its earnings.
Many investors will assess a company’s dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the last ten years, Applied Materials has lifted its dividend by approximately 13% a year on average. It’s great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.
The Bottom Line
Has Applied Materials got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? Applied Materials has been growing earnings at a rapid rate, and has a conservatively low payout ratio, implying that it is reinvesting heavily in its business; a sterling combination. It’s a promising combination that should mark this company worthy of closer attention.
Curious what other investors think of Applied Materials? See what analysts are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow.
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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