Does Nike Inc. Belong in Your Dividend Portfolio?

Nike Chairman Phil Knight, surrounded by the shoes that built his legacy. Image source: Nike.

Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) has never been an obvious dividend play. With a current dividend yield of just 1.2%, the athletic-gear maker offers the fourth-smallest yield among the 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) members. The average Dow yield right now is 2.6%, and Nike's payout hasn't matched that yield at any time in the last 10 years.

NKE Dividend Yield (TTM) Chart

NKE Dividend Yield (TTM) data by YCharts.

But that doesn't mean that Nike isn't trying to treat its shareholders right. That would be silly, considering that co-founder and Chairman Phil Knight owns nearly 20% of the company. That's plenty of incentive to align Nike's payout policies with the best interest of shareholders.

The company has nearly doubled its dividend payouts in the last five years, and almost quadrupled them in the last decade. The yield has stayed low because Nike shares were rising faster than the dividend policy. That's a very nice problem to have.

NKE Chart

NKE data by YCharts.

The dueling chart lines do represent a dilemma for ultratraditional income investors. Once your automatic dividend reinvestment plan is in play, it's actually better to see share prices falling and staying low. That way, your dividend checks buy more shares at a cheaper valuation, and a true dividend investor isn't planning to sell the underlying shares anyway.

That said, I still insist that Nike's dividend-limiting price gains remains more of a boon than a blight on the stock. Yes, even for dividend investors.

NKE Chart

NKE data by YCharts

If you bought Nike stock 10 years ago, you locked in a split-adjusted starting price of $19.10 per share. Measured against that base, today's annual payout at $0.96 per share works out to an effective yield just north of 5%.

Nike shares have tripled in 10 years, but the return rises to 363% if you reinvested those seemingly forgettable dividends along the way. That's a 63% boost, and it makes an even bigger difference over multiple decades.

So Nike may not look like the Dow's richest dividend play right now. But patience is a virtue, and Nike is doing all it can to keep rewarding shareholders -- on top of swiftly rising share prices. And when the time finally comes to sell your Nike shares (deep in retirement, when Nike's business changes for the worse, or maybe to handle a temporary cash crunch) those high share prices sure will come in handy.

These 3 stocks will help you retire rich
It's no secret that investors tend to be impatient with the market, but the best investment strategy is to buy shares in solid businesses and keep them for the long term. In the special free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich," The Motley Fool shares investment ideas and strategies that could help you build wealth for years to come. Click here to grab your free copy today.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2885306, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 11/22/2014 4:28:10 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement