National Retail Properties, Inc. (NYSE:NNN) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 30th of July to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of August.
National Retail Properties’s next dividend payment will be US$0.52 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$2.00 to shareholders. Looking at the last 12 months of distributions, National Retail Properties has a trailing yield of approximately 3.9% on its current stock price of $52.6. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether National Retail Properties’s dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. It paid out 87% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. We’d be worried about the risk of a drop in earnings. That said, REITs are often required by law to distribute all of their earnings, and it’s not unusual to see a REIT with a payout ratio around 100%. We wouldn’t read too much into this. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. It paid out more than half (71%) of its free cash flow in the past year, which is within an average range for most companies.
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. With that in mind, we’re encouraged by the steady growth at National Retail Properties, with earnings per share up 6.9% on average over the last five years. Decent historical earnings per share growth suggests National Retail Properties has been effectively growing value for shareholders. However, it’s now paying out more than half its earnings as dividends. If management lifts the payout ratio further, we’d take this as a tacit signal that the company’s growth prospects are slowing.
The main way most investors will assess a company’s dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. National Retail Properties has delivered 3.2% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. It’s encouraging to see the company lifting dividends while earnings are growing, suggesting at least some corporate interest in rewarding shareholders.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid National Retail Properties? Earnings per share have been growing modestly and National Retail Properties paid out a bit over half of its earnings and free cash flow last year. In summary, while it has some positive characteristics, we’re not inclined to race out and buy National Retail Properties today.
Curious what other investors think of National Retail Properties? 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.
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 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. Thank you for reading.