Is CNH Industrial N.V. (NYSE:CNHI) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Could CNH Industrial N.V. (NYSE:CNHI) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it’s important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

With a 2.2% yield and a five-year payment history, investors probably think CNH Industrial looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 2.2% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding CNH Industrial for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on CNH Industrial!

NYSE:CNHI Historical Dividend Yield, May 20th 2019
NYSE:CNHI Historical Dividend Yield, May 20th 2019

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Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company’s net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, CNH Industrial paid out 25% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Last year, CNH Industrial paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

Is CNH Industrial’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As CNH Industrial has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company’s total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments on debt. Essentially we check that a) a company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. CNH Industrial has net debt of 7.54 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Net interest cover of 7.94 times its interest expense appears reasonable for CNH Industrial, although we’re conscious that even high interest cover doesn’t make a company bulletproof. Despite a decent level of interest cover, we think that shareholders should remain cautious of the high level of net debt. Rising rates or tighter debt markets have a nasty habit of making fools of highly-indebted dividend stocks.

We update our data on CNH Industrial 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. CNH Industrial has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.21 in 2014, compared to US$0.20 last year. The dividend has shrunk at a rate of less than 1% a year over this period.

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. CNH Industrial has grown its earnings per share at 9.1% per annum over the past five years. A low payout ratio and strong historical earnings growth suggests CNH Industrial has been effectively reinvesting in its business. We think this generally bodes well for its dividend prospects.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that CNH Industrial’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. CNH Industrial has a low payout ratio, which we like, although it paid out virtually all of its generated cash. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Ultimately, CNH Industrial comes up short on our dividend analysis. It’s not that we think it is a bad company – just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 13 analysts we track are forecasting for CNH Industrial 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%.

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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.