Does Popular, Inc. (NASDAQ:BPOP) Have A Place In Your Dividend Portfolio?

Today we’ll take a closer look at Popular, Inc. (NASDAQ:BPOP) 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. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it’s important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

A slim 2.2% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Popular could have potential. The company also returned around 7.2% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Popular for its dividend – read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NasdaqGS:BPOP Historical Dividend Yield, October 14th 2019
NasdaqGS:BPOP Historical Dividend Yield, October 14th 2019

Payout ratios

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 19% of Popular’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. We like this low payout ratio, because it implies the dividend is well covered and leaves ample opportunity for reinvestment.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Popular’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$3.20 in 2009, compared to US$1.20 last year. The dividend has shrunk at around 9.3% a year during that period. Popular’s dividend has been cut sharply at least once, so it hasn’t fallen by 9.3% every year, but this is a decent approximation of the long term change.

A shrinking dividend over a ten-year period is not ideal, and we’d be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it’s even more important to see if EPS are growing. While there may be fluctuations in the past , Popular’s earnings per share have basically not grown from where they were five years ago. Over the long term, steady earnings per share is a risk as the value of the dividends can be reduced by inflation. Growth has been hard to come by. However, at least the payout ratio is conservative, and there is plenty of potential to increase this over time.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. We’re glad to see Popular has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Second, earnings have been essentially flat, and its history of dividend payments is chequered – having cut its dividend at least once in the past. While we’re not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Popular out there.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 6 analysts we track are forecasting for Popular for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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 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. Thank you for reading.