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Monday, September 14, 2009

* Lowe's Companies, Inc. (LOW) Dividend Stock Analysis

This article originally appeared on The DIV-Net September 7, 2009.

Linked here is a detailed quantitative analysis of Lowe's Companies, Inc. (LOW). Below are some highlights from the above linked analysis:

Company Description: Lowe's Companies, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate as a home improvement retailer in the United States and Canada. The company offers a range of products and services for home decoration, maintenance, repair, remodeling, and property maintenance.

Fair Value: I consider four calculations of fair value, see page 2 of the linked PDF for a detailed description:
  1. Avg. High Yield Price
  2. 20-Year DCF Price
  3. Avg. P/E Price
  4. Graham Number
LOW is trading at a discount to only 1.) above. The stock is trading at a 8.4% premium to its calculated fair value of $19.95. LOW did not earn any Stars in this section.

Dividend Analytical Data: In this section there are three possible Stars and three key metrics, see page 2 of the linked PDF for a detailed description:
  1. Free Cash Flow Payout
  2. Debt To Total Capital
  3. Key Metrics
  4. Dividend Growth Rate
  5. Years of Div. Growth
  6. Rolling 4-yr Div. > 15%
LOW earned two Stars in this section for 2.) and 3.) above. LOW earned a Star as a result of its most recent Debt to Total Capital being less than 45%. LOW earned a Star for having an acceptable score in at least two of the four Key Metrics measured. Rolling 4-yr Div. > 15% means that dividends grew on average in excess of 15% for each consecutive 4 year period over the last 10 years (2000-2003, 2001-2004, 2002-2005, etc.) I consider this a key metric since dividends will double every 5 years if they grow by 15%. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 1961 and has increased its dividend payments for 47 consecutive years.

Dividend Income vs. MMA: Why would you assume the equity risk and invest in a dividend stock if you could earn a better return in a much less risky money market account (MMA)? This section compares the earning ability of this stock with a high yield MMA. Two items are considered in this section, see page 2 of the linked PDF for a detailed description:
  1. NPV MMA Diff.
  2. Years to > MMA
LOW earned a Star in this section for its NPV MMA Diff. of the $1,285. This amount is in excess of the $500 target I look for in a stock that has increased dividends as long as LOW has. If LOW grows its dividend at 15.0% per year, it will take 7 years to equal a MMA yielding an estimated 20-year average rate of 3.9%.

Other:LOW is a member of the S&P 500, a Dividend Aristocrat and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers™ Index. The the home improvement retail industry tends to be very cyclical and relies on economic growth. However, LOW is a strong player with opportunities for growth both domestically and abroad. Aging homes and relatively high home ownership rates are powerful long-term demographic drivers that should help mitigate the continued weakness in residential construction. Consumers viewing their homes as investments will continue to spend money on home improvement projects. Risks include a sharp slowdown in the economy, a large rise in long term interest rates and the inability of LOW to execute its expansion strategy.

Conclusion:LOW did not earn any Stars in the Fair Value section, earned two Stars in the Dividend Analytical Data section and earned one Star in the Dividend Income vs. MMA section for a total of three Stars. This quantitatively ranks LOW as a 3 Star-Hold.

Using my D4L-PreScreen.xls model, I determined the share price could increase to $28.86 before LOW's NPV MMA Differential fell to the $500 that I like to see for a stock with 47 years of consecutive dividend increases. At that price the stock would yield 1.21%.

Resetting the D4L-PreScreen.xls model and solving for the dividend growth rate needed to generate the target $500 NPV MMA Differential, the calculated rate is 12.4%. This dividend growth rate is lower than the the 15.0% used in this analysis, thus providing a margin of safety. LOW has a risk rating of 1.50 which classifies it as a low risk stock.

LOW has been a consistent performer and continued to raise its dividend during the economic downturn. It has held up much better than its chief rival Home Depot (HD), which hasn't raised its dividend since November 2006. The stock would have rated a 4-Star Buy except for 3 years of negative cash flow between 2000 and 2002. I have followed LOW for some time, but have been hesitant to initiate a position in a cyclical company with such a low dividend yield. I calculate LOW's buy price at $19.95. For additional information, including the stock's dividend history, please refer to its data page.

Disclaimer: Material presented here is for informational purposes only. The above quantitative stock analysis, including the Star rating, is mechanically calculated and is based on historical information. The analysis assumes the stock will perform in the future as it has in the past. This is generally never true. Before buying or selling any stock you should do your own research and reach your own conclusion. See my Disclaimer for more information.

Full Disclosure: At the time of this writing, I held no position in LOW (0.0% of my Income Portfolio).

What are your thoughts on LOW?


The the home improvement retail industry tends to be very cyclical and relies on economic growth. However, LOW is a strong player with opportunities for growth both domestically and abroad. Aging homes and relatively high home ownership rates are powerful long-term demographic drivers that should help mitigate the continued weakness in residential construction. Consumers viewing their homes as investments will continue to spend money on home improvement projects. Risks include a sharp slowdown in the economy, a large rise in long term interest rates and the inability of LOW to execute its expansion strategy.

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