Tread With Caution Around Dillard's, Inc.'s (NYSE:DDS) 1.2% Dividend Yield

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 27, 2020

Is Dillard's, Inc. (NYSE:DDS) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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 Dillard's's 1.2% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. The company also returned around 13% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. That said, the recent jump in the share price will make Dillard's's dividend yield look smaller, even though the company prospects could be improving. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:DDS Historic Dividend October 27th 2020

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Although Dillard's pays a dividend, it was loss-making during the past year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Last year, Dillard's paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Dillard'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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Dillard'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$0.2 in 2010, compared to US$0.6 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 14% per year over this time.

Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven't experienced any notable falls during this period.

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. Over the past five years, it looks as though Dillard's' EPS have declined at around 20% a year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Dillard's' earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Dillard's' dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Dillard's' dividend is not well covered by free cash flow, plus it paid a dividend while being unprofitable. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. In this analysis, Dillard's doesn't shape up too well as a dividend stock. We'd find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.

It's important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. To that end, Dillard's has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is concerning) we think you should know about.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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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