Is La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Could La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to a company for its dividend. Unfortunately, one common occurrence with dividend companies is for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

With a 1.5% yield and a six-year payment history, investors probably think La-Z-Boy looks like a reliable dividend stock. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 1.3% of market capitalisation this year. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on La-Z-Boy!
NYSE:LZB Historical Dividend Yield, April 17th 2019
NYSE:LZB Historical Dividend Yield, April 17th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, 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. In the last year, La-Z-Boy paid out 23% 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. La-Z-Boy’s cash payout ratio in the last year was 32%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business.

Consider getting our latest analysis on La-Z-Boy’s financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. La-Z-Boy has been paying a dividend for the past six years. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a while now, which is great. However we’d prefer to see consistency for a few more years before giving it our full seal of approval. During the past six-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.16 in 2013, compared to US$0.52 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 22% a year over that time.

We’re not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient’s purchasing power. It’s good to see La-Z-Boy has been growing its earnings per share at 20% a year over the past 5 years. Earnings per share are growing at a solid clip, and the payout ratio is low. We think this is an ideal combination in a dividend stock.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. It’s great to see that La-Z-Boy is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we’d like. La-Z-Boy performs well under this analysis, although it falls slightly short in some key areas. At the right valuation though, it may still be an interesting prospect.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 4 analysts we track are forecasting for La-Z-Boy 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.