Stock Analysis

First United Corporation (NASDAQ:FUNC) Is Yielding 2.7% - But Is It A Buy?

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NasdaqGS:FUNC
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Dividend paying stocks like First United Corporation (NASDAQ:FUNC) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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.

While First United's 2.7% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. The company also returned around 1.9% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on First United!

historic-dividend
NasdaqGS:FUNC Historic Dividend March 8th 2021

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. First United paid out 25% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. 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.

Consider getting our latest analysis on First United's financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. First United has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. Its dividend payments have declined on at least one occasion over the past 10 years. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.04 in 2011, compared to US$0.5 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 29% 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.

First United has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, but it might be worth considering if the business has turned a corner.

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. First United has grown its earnings per share at 4.4% per annum over the past five years. First United is paying out less than half of its earnings, which we like. Earnings per share growth have grown slowly, which is not great, but if the retained earnings can be reinvested effectively, future growth may be stronger.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that First United'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 First United has a low and conservative payout ratio. Unfortunately, earnings growth has also been mediocre, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. First United might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. For instance, we've picked out 1 warning sign for First United that investors should take into consideration.

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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What are the risks and opportunities for First United?

First United Corporation operates as the bank holding company for First United Bank & Trust that provides various retail and commercial banking services to businesses and individuals.

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Rewards

  • Trading at 40.2% below our estimate of its fair value

  • Earnings grew by 52.8% over the past year

Risks

No risks detected for FUNC from our risks checks.

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