This week, Adobe (ADBE) reported earnings and the results were pretty much in line with what analysts were expecting. The company earned 57 cents per share, which was in line with estimates. The revenue came in at $1.045 billion, which was below expectations of 1.053 billion.
For the current quarter, Adobe expects to earn 59 cents a share on sales of $1.115 billion, which is the midpoint of its guidance. Analysts are looking for Adobe to earn 60 cents a share on sales of $1.102 billion.
Adobe CEO said that digital media and digital marketing will see tremendous growth ahead. While this may be true, it still does not take away from the fact that revenue growth has been pretty flat.
The company also maintains a sizable amount of cash relative to debt. They have $2.5 billion in cash and $1.5 billion in debt. CEO Shantanu Narayen and the board need to understand that Adobe has become a fairly mature company. It needs to start reinstituting a dividend. The last time Adobe paid a dividend was in 2005.
Apple (AAPL), which is seeing much more rapid growth than Adobe, has opted to pay out a dividend of 1.8% annually. To see a company like Apple paying out a decent dividend, when it is experiencing rapid growth shows the level of commitment it has to shareholders. Adobe, on the other hand, has not showed investors any sign of returning capital back to shareholders.
I think Adobe could easily afford to pay 70 cents per share annually in dividends. This would put the yield a little over 2% and the payout ratio would still be under 50%.
I believe Adobe should follow Cisco's (CSCO) strategy. Last March, Cisco declared it would officially began to start paying a dividend. This is because the company had realized that growth was slowing and that they would be better off returning capital to shareholders. Cisco currently yields 1.6%.
Mr. Narayen needs to understand that Adobe has limited growth due to its size and market share. I hope he and the board seriously consider a reinstatement of the dividend.