Income investors seek a steady stream of dividends. Leggett & Platt’s dividend history is long and it might make a great addition to an income portfolio. Let’s take a look at the business, dividend history, and payout safety going forward.
Business Overview and Highlights
Leggett & Platt (NYSE: LEG) is a diversified manufacturing company that designs and produces various engineered components that can be found in most homes and automobiles. The $4.8 billion business is based out of Missouri and it employs 22,000 people. Last year Leggett & Platt pulled in $4.3 billion in sales and that breaks down to $194,000 per employee.
The company runs within the consumer sector and maintains a solid credit rating (BBB) from the S&P. This allows Leggett & Platt to issue cheap debt to expand operations and finance other initiatives.
On May 7, 2019, Leggett & Platt’s board of directors declared a $0.40 quarterly dividend per share. The new dividend represents a 5.3% increase from the prior dividend of $0.38. The dividend is payable July 15 to shareholders of record by the close of business on June 14.
Leggett & Platt’s 10-Year Dividend History
The company paid investors $1.02 per share a decade ago. Over the last 10 years, the dividend has climbed to $1.50. That’s a 47% increase and you can see the annual changes below…
The compound annual growth is 3.9% over 10 years… but over the last year, the dividend climbed 5.6%. The increase in dividend growth is a good sign. Leggett & Platt might work out as a great income investment. Let’s take a look at the yield…
Current Yield vs. 10-Year Average
Leggett & Platt’s long history of paying dividends makes it one of the best dividend stocks around. This also makes the dividend yield a great indicator of value. A higher yield is generally better for buyers. Sustainability is also vital and we’ll look at that soon.
The dividend yield comes in at 4.34% and that’s below the 10-year average of 4.74%. The chart below shows the dividend yield over the last 10 years…
The lower yield shows that investors have bid up the company’s market value. They might be expecting higher growth and payouts. But more often than not, the dividend yield is mean reverting with share price changes.
Improved Dividend Safety Check
Many investors look at the payout ratio to determine dividend safety. They look at the dividend per share divided by the net income per share. So a payout ratio of 60% would mean that every $1 Leggett & Platt earns, it pays investors $0.60.
The payout ratio is a good indicator of dividend safety… but accountants manipulate net income. They adjust for goodwill and other non-cash items. A better metric is free cash flow.
Here’s Leggett & Platt’s payout ratio based on free cash flow over the last 10 years…
The ratio is volatile over the last 10 years and the trend is up. In 2014 the company reported a lower net income than previous years which caused the free cash flow to decrease. The last year shows a payout ratio of 71.8%. This doesn’t give much wiggle room for Leggett & Platt’s board of directors to raise the dividend.
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