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What To Know Before Buying ITT Inc. (NYSE:ITT) For Its Dividend

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at ITT Inc. (NYSE:ITT) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

A 0.8% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests ITT has some staying power. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding ITT for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

NYSE:ITT Historical Dividend Yield, November 29th 2019

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Looking at the data, we can see that 16% of ITT's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. We'd say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. ITT's cash payout ratio last year was 20%, 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.

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

We update our data on ITT every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of ITT's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.70 in 2009, compared to US$0.59 last year. Dividend payments have fallen sharply, down 65% over that time.

When a company's per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either external business conditions, or the company's capital allocation decisions. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that dividend payments have been shrinking like a glacier in a warming world, we need to check if there are some bright spots on the horizon. In the last five years, ITT's earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 8.1% per annum. 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 ITT's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we like that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. Earnings per share are down, and ITT's dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than ITT out there.

Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.