McDonald's Corporation (MCD), together with its subsidiaries, franchises and operates McDonald's restaurants worldwide. Its restaurants offer various food items, and soft drinks and other beverages.
MCD is a dividend aristocrat as well as a component of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials indexes. The company has been increasing its dividends for the past 31 consecutive years. From 1998 up until 2007 this dividend growth stock has delivered an annual average total return of 11.00 % to its shareholders.
Annual dividend payments have increased over the past 10 years by an average of 25% annually, which is much higher than the growth in EPS. A 25% growth in dividends translates into the dividend payment doubling almost every three years. If we look at historical data, going as far back as 1979, MCD has actually managed to double its dividend payment every four years on average. The company recently switched from paying annual dividends to paying dividend payments quarterly.
If we invested $100,000 in MCD on December 31, 1997 we would have bought 4188 shares (Adjusted for A 2:1 stock split in March 1999). In 1998 our annual dividend income would have amounted to $739. If we kept reinvesting the dividends instead of spending them, our quarterly dividend income would have risen to $7044 by December 2007. For a period of 10 years, our annual dividend income has increased by 853 %. If we reinvested it, our annual dividend income would have increased by 752%.
The dividend payout has remained at or below 40% over our study period. In 2007 however, the payout has risen above 70%. A lower payout is always a plus, since it leaves room for consistent dividend growth minimizing the impact of short-term fluctuations in earnings.
I think that MCD is currently overvalued at a P/E of 27 and a payout ratio of over 75%. The only positive is the solid dividend yield and above average dividend growth. I would consider initiating a long position in MCD on dips below $40.
Disclosure: Author does not own shares of MCD.