Dividend paying stocks like Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason – some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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.
With a nine-year payment history and a 3.5% yield, many investors probably find Cisco Systems intriguing. We’d agree the yield does look enticing. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 7.1% of its market capitalisation. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Cisco Systems for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.
Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis
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. 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 54% of Cisco Systems’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.
We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Of the free cash flow it generated last year, Cisco Systems paid out 40% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable. It’s encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don’t drop precipitously.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company’s earnings, we do note Cisco Systems’s strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
We update our data on Cisco Systems every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that Cisco Systems paid its first dividend at least nine years ago. The dividend has been quite stable over the past nine 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 nine-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.24 in 2011, compared to US$1.40 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 22% a year over that time.
The dividend has been growing pretty quickly, which could be enough to get us interested even though the dividend history is relatively short. Further research may be warranted.
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 Cisco Systems has been growing its earnings per share at 11% a year over the past five years. Cisco Systems’s earnings per share have grown rapidly in recent years, although more than half of its profits are being paid out as dividends, which makes us wonder if the company has a limited number of reinvestment opportunities in its business.
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. Cisco Systems’s payout ratios are within a normal range for the average corporation, and we like that its cashflow was stronger than reported profits. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we’d like. Cisco Systems has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.
Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 24 Cisco Systems analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at [email protected] 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.
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. Thank you for reading.