How Does The Cato Corporation (NYSE:CATO) Fare As A Dividend Stock? – Simply Wall St

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Could The Cato Corporation (NYSE:CATO) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to a company for its dividend. 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.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Cato. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 3.6% of the company’s market capitalisation at the time. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Cato! NYSE:CATO Historical Dividend Yield, May 1st 2019

Payout ratios

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. So we need to be form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Cato paid out 107% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. The company paid out 58%, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash Cato has available to meet other needs.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company’s earnings, we do note Cato’s strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Cato’s financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Cato’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 ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.66 in 2009, compared to US$1.32 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 7.2% per year over this time.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, 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 not great to see that Cato’s have fallen at approximately 7.9% over the past five years. If earnings continue to decline, the dividend may come under pressure. Every investor should make an assessment of whether the company is taking steps to stabilise the situation.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Cato’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We’re not keen on the fact that Cato paid out such a high percentage of its income, although its cashflow is in better shape. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. With this information in mind, we think Cato may not be an ideal dividend stock.

See if management have put their money where their mouth is, by checking insider shareholdings in Cato stock.

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.

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