The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TRV) Has Got What It Takes To Be An Attractive Dividend Stock

Today we’ll take a closer look at The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TRV) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong dividend company and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it’s important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

While Travelers Companies’s 2.4% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. It also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 3.4% of the company’s market capitalisation at the time. 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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NYSE:TRV Historical Dividend Yield, April 23rd 2019
NYSE:TRV Historical Dividend Yield, April 23rd 2019

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. So we need to be form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Travelers Companies paid out 31% 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. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Travelers Companies’s cash payout ratio last year was 18%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Travelers Companies’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. Travelers Companies has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.20 in 2009, compared to US$3.28 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 11% 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. Earnings have grown at around 0.1% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! Travelers Companies is paying out less than half of its earnings, which we like. Earnings per share growth have grown slowly, which is not great, but if the retained earnings can be reinvested effectively, future growth may be stronger.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. Firstly, we like that Travelers Companies has low and conservative payout ratios. Second, earnings growth has been mediocre, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. Travelers Companies 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.

Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting 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.