Read This Before Buying United Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:UBSI) For Its Dividend

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 21, 2020
NasdaqGS:UBSI

Is United Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:UBSI) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

In this case, United Bankshares likely looks attractive to investors, given its 5.7% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. The company also returned around 0.6% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying United Bankshares for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
NasdaqGS:UBSI Historic Dividend October 21st 2020

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. 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 66% of United Bankshares' profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

We update our data on United Bankshares every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of United Bankshares' dividend payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.2 in 2010, compared to US$1.4 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.6% a year over that time.

Dividends have grown relatively slowly, which is not great, but some investors may value the relative consistency of the dividend.

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. United Bankshares' EPS are effectively flat over the past five years. Flat earnings per share are acceptable for a time, but over the long term, the purchasing power of the company's dividends could be eroded by inflation. Growth of 1.7% is relatively anaemic growth, which we wonder about. If the company is struggling to grow, perhaps that's why it elects to pay out more than half of its earnings to shareholders.

Conclusion

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. United Bankshares' payout ratio is within normal bounds. Earnings per share have not been growing, but we respect a company that maintains a relatively stable dividend. United Bankshares might not be a bad business, but it doesn't show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. As an example, we've identified 1 warning sign for United Bankshares that you should be aware of before investing.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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