Why Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE) Is A Dividend Rockstar

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 24, 2020
NYSE:ICE

Could Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

Investors might not know much about Intercontinental Exchange's dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last seven years and offers a 1.2% yield. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 2.9% of its market capitalisation. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Intercontinental Exchange for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
NYSE:ICE Historic Dividend November 24th 2020

Payout ratios

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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Looking at the data, we can see that 32% of Intercontinental Exchange's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

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

Dividend Volatility

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Intercontinental Exchange has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. The dividend has been quite stable over the past seven years, which is great to see - although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.5 in 2013, compared to US$1.2 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 13% a year over that time.

Intercontinental Exchange has been growing its dividend quite rapidly, which is exciting. However, the short payment history makes us question whether this performance will persist across a full market cycle.

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. It's good to see Intercontinental Exchange has been growing its earnings per share at 17% a year over the past five years. A company paying out less than a quarter of its earnings as dividends, and growing earnings at more than 10% per annum, looks to be right in the cusp of its growth phase. At the right price, we might be interested.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Intercontinental Exchange's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that Intercontinental Exchange has a low and conservative payout ratio. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. Intercontinental Exchange has a number of positive attributes, but falls short of our ideal dividend company. It may be worth a look at the right price, though.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 1 warning sign for Intercontinental Exchange that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020


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