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Is Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll take a closer look at Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

With a 1.0% yield and a five-year payment history, investors probably think Korn Ferry looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.0% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 2.3% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Korn Ferry for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Korn Ferry!

NYSE:KFY Historical Dividend Yield, September 2nd 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Korn Ferry paid out 22% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Korn Ferry paid out 11% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservative and suggests the dividend is sustainable. It's positive to see that Korn Ferry's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

We update our data on Korn Ferry every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. Looking at the data, we can see that Korn Ferry has been paying a dividend for the past five years. Its most recent annual dividend was US$0.40 per share, effectively flat on its first payment five years ago.

Modest dividend growth is good to see, especially with the payments being relatively stable. However, the payment history is relatively short and we wouldn't want to rely on this dividend too much.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. Earnings have grown at around 4.0% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! As we saw above, earnings per share growth has not been strong. On the plus side, the dividend payout ratio is low and dividends could grow faster than earnings, if the company decides to increase its payout ratio.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Korn Ferry's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. It's great to see that Korn Ferry is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any earnings growth, and the company's dividend history has been too short for us to evaluate the consistency of the dividend. Overall we think Korn Ferry is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 6 analysts we track are forecasting for Korn Ferry for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.