Readers hoping to buy MSC Industrial Direct Co., Inc. (NYSE:MSM) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. You can purchase shares before the 30th of November in order to receive the dividend, which the company will pay on the 15th of December.
The upcoming dividend for MSC Industrial Direct will put a total of US$3.50 per share in shareholders' pockets, up from last year's total dividends of US$3.00. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. MSC Industrial Direct is paying out an acceptable 66% of its profit, a common payout level among most companies. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 48% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with consistently growing earnings per share generally make the best dividend stocks, as they usually find it easier to grow dividends per share. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. With that in mind, we're encouraged by the steady growth at MSC Industrial Direct, with earnings per share up 3.8% on average over the last five years. Earnings per share growth has been slim, and the company is already paying out a majority of its earnings. While there is some room to both increase the payout ratio and reinvest in the business, generally the higher a payout ratio goes, the lower a company's prospects for future growth.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. MSC Industrial Direct has delivered an average of 14% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. We're glad to see dividends rising alongside earnings over a number of years, which may be a sign the company intends to share the growth with shareholders.
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid MSC Industrial Direct? Earnings per share growth has been modest and MSC Industrial Direct paid out over half of its profits and less than half of its free cash flow, although both payout ratios are within normal limits. Overall, it's hard to get excited about MSC Industrial Direct from a dividend perspective.
On that note, you'll want to research what risks MSC Industrial Direct is facing. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for MSC Industrial Direct and you should be aware of these before buying any shares.
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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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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