Fidelity National Financial's Dividend Is Safe

Dividend investors know that it pays to follow how much of a company's money goes toward funding its payouts. A nice yield now won't matter much if the company can't keep making those payments going forward.

Here, we'll highlight a given company and its closest competitors to see just how safe their dividends are, with a little help from three crucial tools:

  • The interest coverage ratio, or earnings before interest and taxes, divided by interest expense. The interest coverage ratio measures a company's ability to pay the interest on its debt. An interest coverage ratio less than 1.5 is questionable; a number less than 1 means that the company is not bringing in enough money to cover its interest expenses.
  • The EPS payout ratio, or dividends per share divided by earnings per share. The EPS payout ratio measures the percentage of earnings that go toward paying the dividend. A ratio greater than 80% is worrisome.
  • The FCF payout ratio, or dividends per share divided by free cash flow per share. Earnings alone don't always paint a complete picture of a business' health. The FCF payout ratio measures the percentage of free cash flow devoted toward paying the dividend. Again, a ratio greater 80% could be a red flag.

Let's examine Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF  ) and three of its peers. Fidelity National and First American Financial (NYSE: FAF  ) collectively control 65% of the title insurance market, with Fidelity National earning four stars from our investing community.

Company

Yield

Interest Coverage

EPS Payout Ratio

FCF Payout Ratio

Fidelity National Financial

3.1%

12.7

38.0%

34.3%

First American Financial

1.6%

11.3

26.0%

(1.7%)

Old Republic International (NYSE: ORI  )

5.8%

0.2

(2,306.0%)

(14.8%)

Stewart Information Services (NYSE: STC  )

0.5%

5.7

15.2%

2.1%

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

With an interest coverage of 12.7, Fidelity National Financial covers every $1 in interest expenses with a little under $13 in operating earnings. Given that its EPS payout ratio and FCF payout ratio are below 40%, you shouldn't have to worry that Fidelity National Financial will need to cut its dividend anytime soon.

Another tool for better investing
Most investors don't keep tabs on their companies. That's a mistake. If you take the time to read past the headlines and crack a filing now and then, you're in a much better position to spot potential trouble early. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock-tracking service.

Follow Dan Dzombak on Twitter at @DanDzombak to check out his musings and see what articles he finds interesting. The Motley Fool owns shares of Fidelity National Financial. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of First American Financial, Fidelity National Financial, and Stewart Information Services.Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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