Is County Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ICBK) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

Is County Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:ICBK) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

With a 1.1% yield and a four-year payment history, investors probably think County Bancorp looks like a reliable dividend stock. A low yield is generally a turn-off, but if the prospects for earnings growth were strong, investors might be pleasantly surprised by the long-term results. 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.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on County Bancorp!

NasdaqGM:ICBK Historical Dividend Yield, August 6th 2019
NasdaqGM:ICBK Historical Dividend Yield, August 6th 2019

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. 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. In the last year, County Bancorp paid out 12% of its profit as dividends. With a low payout ratio, it looks like the dividend is comprehensively covered by earnings.

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 data, we can see that County Bancorp has been paying a dividend for the past four years. This company’s dividend has been unstable, and with a relatively short history, we think it’s a little soon to draw strong conclusions about its long term dividend potential. During the past four-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.16 in 2015, compared to US$0.20 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 5.7% 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.

It’s good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. County Bancorp might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. County Bancorp has grown its earnings per share at 6.4% per annum over the past five years. With a decent amount of growth and a low payout ratio, we think this bodes well for County Bancorp’s prospects of growing its dividend payments in the future.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that County Bancorp’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that County Bancorp has a low and conservative payout ratio. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. In summary, we’re unenthused by County Bancorp as a dividend stock. It’s not that we think it is a bad company; it simply falls short of our criteria in some key areas.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 5 analysts we track are forecasting for County Bancorp for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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