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Is Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE:COG) An Attractive Dividend Stock?

Simply Wall St

Could Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE:COG) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.

While Cabot Oil & Gas's 1.9% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 7.7% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Cabot Oil & Gas for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:COG Historical Dividend Yield, July 29th 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. 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. Cabot Oil & Gas paid out 15% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Cabot Oil & Gas's cash payout ratio last year was 23%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. 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.

We update our data on Cabot Oil & Gas every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, 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 Cabot Oil & Gas'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$0.03 in 2009, compared to US$0.36 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 28% per year over this time.

With rapid dividend growth and no notable cuts to the dividend over a lengthy period of time, we think this company has a lot going for it.

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 Cabot Oil & Gas has been growing its earnings per share at 24% a year over the past 5 years. Earnings per share have grown rapidly, and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings. We think this is ideal from an investment perspective, if the company is able to reinvest these earnings effectively.

Conclusion

When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. Firstly, we like that Cabot Oil & Gas has low and conservative payout ratios. Earnings per share have not been growing, but we respect a company that maintains a relatively stable dividend. Overall, we think there are a lot of positives to Cabot Oil & Gas from a dividend perspective.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 16 analysts we track are forecasting for Cabot Oil & Gas for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.