Is Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) An Attractive Dividend Stock?

Today we’ll take a closer look at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) 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 your dividends, it’s important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you’ll find our analysis useful.

In this case, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store likely looks attractive to investors, given its 5.0% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. We’d guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. 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.

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NasdaqGS:CBRL Historical Dividend Yield, August 17th 2019
NasdaqGS:CBRL Historical Dividend Yield, August 17th 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. So we need to form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 55% of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a fairly normal payout ratio among most businesses. It allows a higher dividend to be paid to shareholders, but does limit the capital retained in the business – which could be good or bad.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store paid out 57% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business. 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.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s dividend payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.80 in 2009, compared to US$8.20 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 26% a year over that time. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn’t grown 26% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

It’s not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We’re generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.

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. It’s good to see Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has been growing its earnings per share at 13% a year over the past 5 years. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s earnings per share have grown rapidly in recent years, although more than half of its profits are being paid out as dividends, which makes us wonder if the company has a limited number of reinvestment opportunities in its business.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we think Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. Ultimately, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store comes up short on our dividend analysis. It’s not that we think it is a bad company – just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 8 analysts we track are forecasting for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 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.