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What Makes Mine Safety Appliances Worth Owning?

By Chuck Saletta – Feb 17, 2014 at 9:00AM

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A healthy balance sheet, a well covered dividend with a great history of growth, and a valuation not too far out of line with a fair value estimate.

The real-money Inflation-Protected Income Growth portfolio owns shares of Mine Safety Appliances (MSA 3.27%). Mine Safety Appliances, like every company in that portfolio, earned its place because at the time it was purchased:

  • Its shares appeared to be reasonably priced.
  • Its balance sheet looked solid.
  • It had a covered dividend with a history of increases.
  • That dividend looked capable of continuing to rise.
  • The company fit reasonably well within the portfolio from a diversification perspective.

Still, just because a company fit a portfolio at one time doesn't mean it will fit forever. This article reviews the current state of several of the key factors that made Mine Safety Appliances worth owning to determine whether it still has what it takes to retain its spot in the IPIG portfolio.

Based on a discounted cash flow analysis, Mine Safety Appliances' business looks to be worth around $1.84 billion. Its stock recently closed at a price that gave the company a market capitalization of $1.95 billion. Since the company's market capitalization is slightly above the IPIG portfolio's fair value estimate, the IPIG portfolio would not consider buying at this price if it didn't already own shares.

Still, any fair value estimate is based on projections of an unknown future, and nobody has the ability to predict it exactly correctly. As a result, since the company's market price is pretty close to that fair value estimate, there doesn't appear to be a compelling case to sell based on valuation.

Result: Hold, based on valuation.

Balance sheet
Mine Safety Appliances has a solid balance sheet, with a debt-to-equity ratio of around 0.5. That reasonable debt-to-equity ratio gives the company the flexibility to manage through financial turmoil and economic cycles while remaining strong. In addition, the company has more than $96 million in cash on its balance sheet, which positions it well for servicing its existing debt while continuing to reward shareholders.

Result: Hold, based on balance sheet.

Mine Safety Appliances currently pays an annual dividend of $1.20 per share, at the same $0.30-per-share quarterly level it has maintained for the past year. In addition to the direct payment, Mine Safety Appliances has a 42-year history of increasing its dividend. With four payments at that $0.30 quarterly level, we'll know soon if the company can extend its streak to 43. Dividend growth is an important characteristic that the IPIG portfolio actively seeks, and Mine Safety Appliances has a nice track record of increases.

In addition to that stellar dividend track record, Mine Safety Appliances' dividend remains well covered, with a 50% payout ratio. That payout ratio means that the company retains about half of its earnings to invest in future growth, while directly rewarding its shareholders with cash for the risks they take by investing.

Result: Hold, based on dividends.

All told: a company still worth owning
Looking at its valuation, its balance sheet, and its dividend, Mine Safety Appliances still maintains the essential qualities needed to retain its place in the Inflation-Protected Income Growth portfolio. That may change over time, though, depending on the company, its competition, regulatory shifts, the whims of the market, and changes in its operating environment that affect its ability to thrive. As a result, the company will again be reviewed in the future to make sure it still deserves a spot in the portfolio.

To follow the IPIG portfolio as buy and sell decisions are made, watch Chuck's article feed by clicking here. To join The Motley Fool's free discussion board dedicated to the IPIG portfolio, simply click here.

Chuck Saletta owns shares of Mine Safety Appliances. The Motley Fool recommends Mine Safety Appliances. 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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