Some investors rely on dividends for growing their wealth, and if you're one of those dividend sleuths, you might be intrigued to know that InterDigital, Inc. (NASDAQ:IDCC) is about to go ex-dividend in just four days. Ex-dividend means that investors that purchase the stock on or after the 13th of April will not receive this dividend, which will be paid on the 28th of April.
InterDigital's next dividend payment will be US$0.35 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$1.40 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that InterDigital has a trailing yield of 2.0% on the current share price of $71.58. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. That's why we should always check whether the dividend payments appear sustainable, and if the company is growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Last year InterDigital paid out 96% of its profits as dividends to shareholders, suggesting the dividend is not well covered by earnings. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. Fortunately, it paid out only 36% of its free cash flow in the past year.
It's good to see that while InterDigital's dividends were not well covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if this were to happen repeatedly, we'd be concerned about whether the dividend is sustainable in a downturn.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Readers will understand then, why we're concerned to see InterDigital's earnings per share have dropped 15% a year over the past five years. Ultimately, when earnings per share decline, the size of the pie from which dividends can be paid, shrinks.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. InterDigital has delivered 13% dividend growth per year on average over the past 10 years. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. InterDigital is already paying out 96% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.
The Bottom Line
Is InterDigital an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's not a great combination to see a company with earnings in decline and paying out 96% of its profits, which could imply the dividend may be at risk of being cut in the future. However, the cash payout ratio was much lower - good news from a dividend perspective - which makes us wonder why there is such a mis-match between income and cashflow. It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.
With that being said, if you're still considering InterDigital as an investment, you'll find it beneficial to know what risks this stock is facing. We've identified 3 warning signs with InterDigital (at least 1 which is a bit concerning), and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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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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