Today we’ll take a closer look at Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE:RGR) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.
A slim 2.4% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Sturm Ruger could have potential. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through this below.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. So we need to form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Sturm Ruger paid out 39% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. The company paid out 88% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is adequate, but reduces the wriggle room in the event of a downturn. 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.
With a strong net cash balance, Sturm Ruger investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Sturm Ruger’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Sturm Ruger’s dividend payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.34 in 2010, compared to US$1.15 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 13% per year over this time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.
Sturm Ruger has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, but it might be worth considering if the business has turned a corner.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it’s even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing – it’s not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. Sturm Ruger’s EPS have fallen by approximately 18% per year during the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Sturm Ruger’s earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Sturm Ruger’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Above all, we’re glad to see that Sturm Ruger pays out a low fraction of its earnings and, while it paid a higher percentage of cashflow, this also was within a normal range. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. While we’re not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Sturm Ruger out there.
Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Sturm Ruger in our latest insider ownership analysis.
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 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.
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