HCA Healthcare, Inc.'s (NYSE:HCA) dividend will be increasing to US$0.56 on 31st of March. Despite this raise, the dividend yield of 0.8% is only a modest boost to shareholder returns.
HCA Healthcare's Payment Has Solid Earnings Coverage
If it is predictable over a long period, even low dividend yields can be attractive. However, HCA Healthcare's earnings easily cover the dividend. This means that most of what the business earns is being used to help it grow.
Over the next year, EPS is forecast to fall by 11.7%. Assuming the dividend continues along recent trends, we believe the payout ratio could be 11%, which we are pretty comfortable with and we think is feasible on an earnings basis.
HCA Healthcare's Dividend Has Lacked Consistency
Looking back, the company hasn't been paying the most consistent dividend, but with such a short dividend history it could be too early to draw solid conclusions. The first annual payment during the last 4 years was US$1.40 in 2018, and the most recent fiscal year payment was US$2.24. This implies that the company grew its distributions at a yearly rate of about 12% over that duration. Dividends have grown rapidly over this time, but with cuts in the past we are not certain that this stock will be a reliable source of income in the future.
The Dividend Looks Likely To Grow
Growing earnings per share could be a mitigating factor when considering the past fluctuations in the dividend. It's encouraging to see HCA Healthcare has been growing its earnings per share at 24% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share is growing at a solid clip, and the payout ratio is low which we think is an ideal combination in a dividend stock as the company can quite easily raise the dividend in the future.
HCA Healthcare Looks Like A Great Dividend Stock
In summary, it is always positive to see the dividend being increased, and we are particularly pleased with its overall sustainability. The company is generating plenty of cash, and the earnings also quite easily cover the distributions. However, it is worth noting that the earnings are expected to fall over the next year, which may not change the long term outlook, but could affect the dividend payment in the next 12 months. Taking this all into consideration, this looks like it could be a good dividend opportunity.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. For example, we've picked out 2 warning signs for HCA Healthcare that investors should know about before committing capital to this stock. Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of strong dividend payers.
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