Pentair plc (NYSE:PNR) will increase its dividend on the 4th of February to US$0.21. Although the dividend is now higher, the yield is only 1.1%, which is below the industry average.
Pentair's Earnings Easily Cover the Distributions
Even a low dividend yield can be attractive if it is sustained for years on end. Before making this announcement, Pentair was easily earning enough to cover the dividend. This means that most of its earnings are being retained to grow the business.
Looking forward, earnings per share is forecast to rise by 15.6% over the next year. Assuming the dividend continues along recent trends, we think the payout ratio could be 21% by next year, which is in a pretty sustainable range.
While the company has been paying a dividend for a long time, it has cut the dividend at least once in the last 10 years. Since 2011, the first annual payment was US$0.80, compared to the most recent full-year payment of US$0.84. Its dividends have grown at less than 1% per annum over this time frame. Modest growth in the dividend is good to see, but we think this is offset by historical cuts to the payments. It is hard to live on a dividend income if the company's earnings are not consistent.
Dividend Growth May Be Hard To Achieve
Growing earnings per share could be a mitigating factor when considering the past fluctuations in the dividend. Earnings have grown at around 4.5% a year for the past five years, which isn't massive but still better than seeing them shrink. Earnings growth is slow, but on the plus side, the dividend payout ratio is low and dividends could grow faster than earnings, if the company decides to increase its payout ratio.
Overall, it's great to see the dividend being raised and that it is still in a sustainable range. While the payout ratios are a good sign, we are less enthusiastic about the company's dividend record. Taking all of this into consideration, the dividend looks viable moving forward, but investors should be mindful that the company has pushed the boundaries of sustainability in the past and may do so again.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 18 analysts we track are forecasting for Pentair for free with public analyst estimates for the company. We have also put together a list of global stocks with a solid dividend.
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