Polaris Industries' Dividend Is Safe

As a dividend investor, it pays to follow how much of a company's money goes toward funding its dividend. 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 one 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's health. The FCF payout ratio measures the percent of free cash flow devoted toward paying the dividend. Again, a ratio greater 80% could be a red flag.

Let's examine Polaris Industries (NYSE: PII  ) and three of its peers.

Company

Yield

Interest Coverage

EPS Payout Ratio

FCF Payout Ratio

Polaris Industries

1.8%

106.6

32.9%

25.6%

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG  )

1.4%

9.6

40.0%

11.7%

Brunswick (NYSE: BC  )

0.2%

1.4

(6.4%)

7.1%

Thor Industries (NYSE: THO  )

1.3%

496.3

17.4%

34.7%

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

With an interest coverage of 106.6, Polaris Industries covers every $1 in interest expenses with more than $106 in operating earnings. Given its EPS payout ratio and FCF payout ratio are below 35%, you shouldn't have to worry that Polaris Industries will need to cut its dividend anytime soon.

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