Is PriceSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PSMT) A Great Dividend Stock?

Dividend paying stocks like PriceSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PSMT) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason – some research shows that a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.

While PriceSmart’s 1.2% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis
NasdaqGS:PSMT Historical Dividend Yield, April 22nd 2019
NasdaqGS:PSMT Historical Dividend Yield, April 22nd 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, PriceSmart paid out 28% of its profit as dividends. This is medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. With a cash payout ratio of 96%, PriceSmart’s dividend payments are poorly covered by cash flow.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of PriceSmart’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. PriceSmart has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.50 in 2009, compared to US$0.70 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 3.4% a year over that time.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively stable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend’s purchasing power over the long term. PriceSmart’s earnings per share have shrunk at -2.1% a year over the past five years. A slight decline in earnings per share may not be a huge immediate concern. However, the best dividend stocks are all able to generate earnings growth over the long term.

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. Firstly, the company has a conservative payout ratio, although we’d note that its cashflow in the past year was substantially lower than its reported profit. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about PriceSmart from a dividend perspective. It’s not that we think it’s a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

See if management have put their money where their mouth is, by checking insider shareholdings in PriceSmart stock.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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.