Why Dividend Hunters Love Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR)

Could Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to a company for its dividend. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

A slim 1.2% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Marriott International could have potential. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 6.5% of market capitalisation this year. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett’s two rules: 1) Don’t lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We’ll run through some checks below to help with this.

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NasdaqGS:MAR Historical Dividend Yield, April 22nd 2019
NasdaqGS:MAR 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. So we need to be form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Marriott International paid out 29% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.

We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Of the levered free cash flow it generated last year, Marriott International paid out 30% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable.

Is Marriott International’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As Marriott International has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks.

A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company’s total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments on debt. Essentially we check that a) a company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Marriott International has net debt of more than 3x its EBITDA. Judicious use of debt can enhance shareholder returns, but also adds to the risk if something goes awry.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Net interest cover of 7.93 times its interest expense appears reasonable for Marriott International, although we’re conscious that even high interest cover doesn’t make a company bulletproof.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Marriott International’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. Marriott International 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$0.35 in 2009, compared to US$1.64 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 17% a year over that time.

Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it’s great to see Marriott International has grown its earnings per share at 22% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

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. First, we like that the company’s dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. That said, we were glad to see it growing earnings and paying a fairly consistent dividend. Marriott International has met all of our criteria, including having strong cash flow that covers the dividend. We definitely think it could be worth looking closer.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 21 analysts we track are forecasting for Marriott International for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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.