How Does AstroNova, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALOT) Fare As A Dividend Stock?

Could AstroNova, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALOT) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to a company for its dividend. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.

While AstroNova’s 1.1% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. 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.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on AstroNova!
NasdaqGM:ALOT Historical Dividend Yield, April 15th 2019
NasdaqGM:ALOT Historical Dividend Yield, April 15th 2019

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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company’s net income after tax. AstroNova paid out 34% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. AstroNova paid out 577% of its free cash last year. Cash flows can be lumpy, but paying out this much cash is not ideal. Paying out more than 100% of your free cash flow in dividends is generally not a long-term, sustainable state of affairs, so we think shareholders should watch this metric closely.

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

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. AstroNova 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$0.24 in 2009, compared to US$0.28 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.6% 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. It’s good to see AstroNova has been growing its earnings per share at 38% a year over the past 5 years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

Conclusion

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. First, we like AstroNova’s low dividend payout ratio, although we’re a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. We like that it has been delivering solid earnings growth and relatively consistent dividend payments. Overall we think AstroNova is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on AstroNova management tenure, salary, and performance.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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.