JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) has taken a beating recently, sending the stock 7% lower this week. Last Friday, the megabank paid out a $0.38 dividend per share, raising its trailing payouts to $1.52 per share. Together, these two events pushed JPMorgan's dividend yield up to 2.9%. That's a significant spike that carried the bank above the average Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) yield for the first time in ages.
JPMorgan's dividend hasn't looked this juicy since summer 2012. The current yield is a huge step up from the slashed-by-the-ankles levels of the 2008-2009 financial crash. What's not to love about this resurgent dividend payer?
A few things, actually.
For one, JPMorgan's quartely payouts have only just climbed back to those delicious pre-crash levels. Last Friday's check was the same size as those issued in each quarter of 2008.
For another, JPMorgan pays out just 33.8% of its earnings as dividends. The bank may race ahead of the Dow's average yield right now, but both the payout boost rate and earnings-based payout ratio lag behind the average Dow peer.
These are red flags for serious dividend investors. And things get even uglier when you account for the stock's chronic underperformance:
Today's earnings report dragged JPMorgan shares down another 3%, but that's just a minor blip on the radar. It's more useful to notice that the stock has trailed the Dow by a large margin over the last five years. The story doesn't get any happier if you zoom out to a 10-year perspective, or even all the way back to the limits of my charting tools, circa 1975:
Income investors don't expect huge share price returns, but you should at least expect the stock to keep pace with the broader market. If not, even the fattest dividend around can't make up for disappointing long-term pricing trends.
Jumping to the bottom line, it doesn't make sense to invest your dividend-hunting nest egg in JPMorgan shares. The stock used to be a recommendation for The Fool's Income Investor newsletter, but those days are long gone. And unless something changes in JPMorgan's fundamentals or business model, the above-average dividend yield won't actually look attractive for the foreseeable future.
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