Is Farmers & Merchants Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:FMAO) 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 popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
A 2.8% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Farmers & Merchants Bancorp has some staying power. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Farmers & Merchants Bancorp for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.
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. In the last year, Farmers & Merchants Bancorp paid out 36% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Farmers & Merchants Bancorp's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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 Farmers & Merchants Bancorp's dividend payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.4 in 2011, compared to US$0.7 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 6.6% per year over this time.
Businesses that can grow their dividends at a decent rate and maintain a stable payout can generate substantial wealth for shareholders over the long term.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. It's good to see Farmers & Merchants Bancorp has been growing its earnings per share at 11% a year over the past five years. A company paying out less than a quarter of its earnings as dividends, and growing earnings at more than 10% per annum, looks to be right in the cusp of its growth phase. At the right price, we might be interested.
When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. Firstly, we like that Farmers & Merchants Bancorp has a low and conservative payout ratio. That said, we were glad to see it growing earnings and paying a fairly consistent dividend. Overall, we think there are a lot of positives to Farmers & Merchants Bancorp from a dividend perspective.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 3 analysts we track are forecasting for Farmers & Merchants Bancorp for free with public analyst estimates for the company.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
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Farmers & Merchants Bancorp
Farmers & Merchants Bancorp, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for The Farmers & Merchants State Bank that provides commercial banking services to individuals and small businesses in northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana.
Flawless balance sheet with solid track record and pays a dividend.