Monday, April 4, 2011

* Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Dividend Stock Analysis

This article originally appeared on The DIV-Net March 28, 2011.

Linked here is a detailed quantitative analysis of Microsoft Corporation (MSFT). Below are some highlights from the above linked analysis:

Company Description: Microsoft is the world's largest software company, develops PC software, including the Windows operating system and the Office application suite.

Fair Value: In calculating fair value, I consider the NPV MMA Differential Fair Value along with these 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

MSFT is trading at a discount to 1.), 2.) and 3.) above. The stock is trading at a 6.6% discount to its calculated fair value of $27.44. MSFT earned a Star in this section since it is trading at a fair value.

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%

MSFT earned two Stars in this section for 1.) and 2.) above. A Star was earned since the Free Cash Flow payout ratio was less than 60% and there were no negative Free Cash Flows over the last 10 years. The stock earned a Star as a result of its most recent Debt to Total Capital being less than 45%. The company has paid a cash dividend to shareholders every year since 2003 and has increased its dividend payments for 8 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

The NPV MMA Diff. of the $1,707 is below the $2,700 target I look for in a stock that has increased dividends as long as MSFT has. If MSFT grows its dividend at 12.0% per year, it will take 5 years to equal a MMA yielding an estimated 20-year average rate of 3.9%.

Memberships and Peers: MSFT is a member of the S&P 500. The company's peer group includes: Apple Inc. (AAPL) with a 0.0% yield, Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) with a 0.8% yield and Google Inc. (GOOG) with a 0.0% yield.

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

Using my D4L-PreScreen.xls model, I determined the share price would need to decrease to $21.60 before MSFT's NPV MMA Differential increased to the $2,700 minimum that I look for in a stock with 8 years of consecutive dividend increases. At that price the stock would yield 2.96%.

Resetting the D4L-PreScreen.xls model and solving for the dividend growth rate needed to generate the target $2,700 NPV MMA Differential, the calculated rate is 13.6%. This dividend growth rate is slightly above the 12.0% used in this analysis, thus providing no margin of safety. MSFT has a risk rating of 1.50 which classifies it as a Low risk stock.

MSFT was one of the first large tech. companies to pay a dividend in 1990. Since then several other large tech. companies have followed suit, including Intel (INTC) in 1992, Oracle (ORCL) in 2009 and just this month Cisco (CSCO) announced its first dividend. MSFT has seen a slow recovery in IT spending, and suffered market share losses in smartphones and other mobile devices. The company's free cash flow payout and debt to total capital is low, the combination of its yield, dividend growth rate and years of dividend growth fall short of my expectations. In addition, it failed to raise its dividend for 8 consecutive quarters between November 2008 and August 2010. For these reasons I will remain on the sidelines even though the stock is trading below by calculated fair value of $27.44. 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 MSFT (0.0% of my Income Portfolio), but was long in INTC. See a list of all my income holdings here.

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