Exponent, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPO) stock is about to trade ex-dividend in 4 days. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 11th of March will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 26th of March.
Exponent's next dividend payment will be US$0.20 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed US$0.80 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Exponent stock has a trailing yield of around 0.8% on the current share price of $94.81. Dividends are an important source of income to many shareholders, but the health of the business is crucial to maintaining those dividends. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Fortunately Exponent's payout ratio is modest, at just 48% of profit. 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. Fortunately, it paid out only 40% of its free cash flow in the past year.
It's positive to see that Exponent's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with strong growth prospects usually make the best dividend payers, because it's easier to grow dividends when earnings per share are improving. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. For this reason, we're glad to see Exponent's earnings per share have risen 14% per annum over the last five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings within the business. Fast-growing businesses that are reinvesting heavily are enticing from a dividend perspective, especially since they can often increase the payout ratio later.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. In the past eight years, Exponent has increased its dividend at approximately 23% a year on average. It's great to see earnings per share growing rapidly over several years, and dividends per share growing right along with it.
The Bottom Line
From a dividend perspective, should investors buy or avoid Exponent? Exponent has been growing earnings at a rapid rate, and has a conservatively low payout ratio, implying that it is reinvesting heavily in its business; a sterling combination. There's a lot to like about Exponent, and we would prioritise taking a closer look at it.
While it's tempting to invest in Exponent for the dividends alone, you should always be mindful of the risks involved. For example - Exponent has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top 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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