Dividend paying stocks like The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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.
While Goldman Sachs Group's 1.4% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 2.2% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Remember though, due to the recent spike in its share price, Goldman Sachs Group's yield will look lower, even though the market may now be factoring in an improvement in its long-term prospects. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Goldman Sachs Group for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Goldman Sachs Group paid out 20% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.
We update our data on Goldman Sachs Group every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Goldman Sachs Group's dividend payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.4 in 2011, compared to US$5.0 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 14% per year over this time.
With rapid dividend growth and no notable cuts to the dividend over a lengthy period of time, we think this company has a lot going for it.
Dividend Growth Potential
While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, 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. It's good to see Goldman Sachs Group has been growing its earnings per share at 15% a year over the past five 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.
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, we like that Goldman Sachs Group has a low and conservative payout ratio. That said, we were glad to see it growing earnings and paying a fairly consistent dividend. Goldman Sachs Group fits all of our criteria, and we think it's an attractive dividend idea that would warrant further investigation.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. For example, we've identified 4 warning signs for Goldman Sachs Group (1 can't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.
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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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