Whirlpool's Dividend X-Ray
Not all dividends are created equal. Here, we'll do a top-to-bottom analysis of a given company to understand the quality of its dividend and how that's changed over the past five years.
The company we're looking at today is Whirlpool (NYS: WHR) , which yields 3.7%.
To evaluate the quality of a dividend, the first thing to consider is whether the company has paid a dividend consistently over the past five years, and, if so, how much has it grown.
Whirlpool's dividend had been steady at $0.43 per quarter since 2004 until it was rasied in 2011 to $0.50 per quarter.
To understand how safe a dividend is, we use two crucial tools, the first of which is:
- The interest coverage ratio, or the number of times interest is earned, which is calculated by earnings before interest and taxes, divided by interest expense. The interest coverage ratio measures a company's ability to pay the interest on its debt. A ratio less than 1.5 is questionable; a number less than 1 means the company is not bringing in enough money to cover its interest expenses.
Whirlpool covers every $1 in interest expense with more than $3 in operating earnings.
The other tool we use to evaluate the safety of a dividend is:
- The EPS payout ratio, or dividends per share divided by earnings per share. The EPS payout ratio measures the percentage of earnings that go toward paying the dividend. A ratio greater than 80% is worrisome.
Source: S&P Capital IQ.
Whirlpool's payout ratio has historically been low. With the raise in dividend, it jumped to nearly 50% but has since come back down to around 40%, a very low level.
Another tool for better investing
Most investors don't keep tabs on their companies. That's a mistake. If you take the time to read past the headlines and crack a filing now and then, you're in a much better position to spot potential trouble early. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock-tracking service.
- Add Whirlpool to My Watchlist.
For more dividend stock ideas, get The Motley Fool's free report, "11 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks."
At the time this article was published Follow Dan Dzombak on Twitter at @DanDzombak to check out his musings and see what articles he finds interesting. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.