Whether competitive or simply for fun, the sports industry is huge. In fact, the global market is expected to reach $303 billion by 2015. Of course, television has helped increase the overall sports industry market by providing coverage and garnering greater attention for mainstream and more obscure sports alike. 2014 is also a banner year for televised sports, as the Winter Olympics and World Cup are literally drawing in billions of viewers. Have you ever given much thought to the companies that manufacture the apparel, footwear and equipment for professionals and weekend warriors alike? With dozens of companies in this mega industry, I will focus on the more mainstream businesses that, of course, pay dividends.
First up, a company famous even before Air Jordan, Nike, Inc. (NYSE:NKE). NKE currently yields a relatively low 1.30%, with an equally low payout ratio of 28.5% making the dividend very safe based on current cash flow. However, the real mojo of NKE doesn't come from its current yield, rather its stunning dividend growth. The ten-year annualized dividend growth rate for NKE has been an eye popping 27.36%. That is some real serious dividend growth. On a valuation basis, NKE seems a bit pricey on several terms. Its current PE is at 26.0 making it higher than the market as a whole and higher than its peers. Even forward valuation is a bit high at 22.0. The share price has definitely run up ahead of earnings on this one.
Next, is a company I recently wrote about (Dividend Aristocrats You Never Heard Of) that may not be a household name but its products are. V.F. Corporation (NYSE:VFC), owners of such brands as Vans, Lucy, Nautica, Jansport, Eastpack, The North Face, Timberland, among many others, produces a lot of the sports and adventure footwear and apparel that many of us own and use. VFC currently yields 1.70% with a moderately low payout ratio of 34.0%. The exciting thing about VFC is its very long dividend raise history going back 41 years! The ten-year annualized dividend growth rate for VFC is a very nice 13.74% as well making this stock a great long term buy. The valuation of VFC is relatively high at 22.5 but well below its peers. Looking for a reason to get into this great dividend stock… then feel better knowing its forward PE is only at 17.5 making this a currently expensive, yet high quality stock.
Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ:COLM) is another dividend paying company whose products are most likely in our homes. The makers of many active outdoor apparel, footwear, accessories, and equipment currently yields a relatively low 1.30% with a payout ratio of 32.8%. Being a fairly new dividend payer, since making its first distribution in 2006, COLM has a respectable five-year annualized dividend growth rate of 7.29%. It may be a bit early to decide on how COLM will treat its dividend policy going forward, but it may be one to watch in the coming years. On the valuation side, COLM is expensive by any measure at 27.2 making it higher than the S&P on a current and forward valuation as well. COLM is a wait and see stock for sure.
In the pure retail segment of the sports industry is another dividend paying company that needs no introduction, Foot Locker, Inc. (NYSE:FL). FL is the owner and operator of its namesake as well as, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Sports, among others. FL currently yields 1.80% with a low payout ratio of 26.7%. Like many of the low yielding stocks I have mentioned in this article and previous articles, the ten-year annualized dividend growth rate for FL has been an amazing 20.58%. These types of stocks always beg the question of seeking current yield or high dividend growth for your portfolio. The PE of FL is current 16.2 which makes this stock a relative bargain in the market today and is also cheaper than many of its peers. FL may be an interesting pick if you are seeking a high dividend growth rate.
Also in the retail space we have Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE:DKS). For those not familiar with DKS on the west coast Dick's Sporting Goods operates as a sports and fitness retailer. DKS currently yields 1.10% with a very low payout ratio of 19.0%. Another relatively new stock to pay dividends (regular payments since 2012), DKS sports an incredibly low valuation relative to the market and industry peers at only 16.6. Like FL, DKS may be a great dividend stock in the future but does offer a cheap "ground floor" entry point at current prices.
Finally, in the retail space we have Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. (NASDAQ:BGFV). Like DKS, BGFV operates as a sporting goods retailer in the western United States. It's interesting to see how these two retailers have mostly stayed on either side of the United States with little overlap. Of all the stocks mentioned, BGFV has a relatively high current yield of 3.40% which will get the attention from many dividend seekers. The payout ratio is at a pretty safe 39.2% which ensures future dividend payments based on current cash flow. Like DKS, BGFV has a very low PE of only 12.1 and a forward PE of 7.8. Of course, low PEs alone do not make a stock cheap. It's interesting to note that the two aforementioned retailers are the cheapest dividend stocks relative to the S&P and its peers by a large margin.
When looking at dividend paying stocks in the sports industry investors have a wide variety of choices when it comes to the type of dividend payment they are looking for. Do you want a current high yield (BGFV), high dividend growth (NKE, FL), or a lower dividend yield with stable growth (VFC, COLM). There is no denying the insane size of the sports industry market worldwide. Do you own a piece of it?
Disclosure: Long VFC