Is Pfizer Limited (NSE:PFIZER) 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.
A slim 0.5% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Pfizer could have potential. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Pfizer for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects 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. 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, Pfizer paid out 20% of its profit as dividends. We'd say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Pfizer paid out 52% 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 positive to see that Pfizer's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Pfizer's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Pfizer's financial position here.
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 Pfizer's dividend payments. Its dividend payments have declined on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was ₹12.50 in 2010, compared to ₹22.50 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.1% a year over that 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.
Dividends have grown at a reasonable rate, but with at least one substantial cut in the payments, we're not certain this dividend stock would be ideal for someone intending to live on the income.
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. Pfizer has grown its earnings per share at 8.8% per annum over the past five years. With a decent amount of growth and a low payout ratio, we think this bodes well for Pfizer's prospects of growing its dividend payments in the future.
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. Above all, we're glad to see that Pfizer pays out a low fraction of its earnings and, while it paid a higher percentage of cashflow, this also was within a normal range. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Pfizer has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.
Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Pfizer management tenure, salary, and performance.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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