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PG Is A Dividend King – But That Doesn’t Mean You Should Buy It Now

|About: The Procter & Gamble Company (PG)
Summary

Over the last twelve months, earnings increased more than17%, while sales rose 3.5%.

PG’s free cash flow is strong, at $12.2 billion. This is also a number that has increased steadily since the second quarter of 2017, and translates to a modest dividend.

PG has a debt/equity ratio of .44. This is a conservative number of first blush that generally suggests the company follows a conservative approach to leverage and debt management; but.

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In the last week, one of the interesting threads that I’ve seen come out of the market’s latest run of volatility is a wave of investor rotation into “defensive” sectors, which usually includes Utilities, Consumer Staples and other pockets of the market that investors tend to think of as safe havens when market uncertainty is high. Another favorite topic analysts seem to like to start talking about under these kinds of conditions is dividend-paying stocks; I’ve seen a number of articles and discussions over the last few weeks not only about the utility of dividends right now, but also been interested by some reports that have compiled lists of the “best” dividend stocks to pay attention to right now.

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One of those interesting lists is what some people refer to as “dividend kings.” These are stocks that have a long history of consistent dividend payments, supported by a regular pattern of increasing their dividend payout over time. That kind of consistency is a rare thing, and it suggests not only that a company has a disciplined approach to managing their bottom line, but also a dedication toward returning value to its shareholders that stands above the rest of the market.

Among dividend kings, there is an even more select group of stocks – those that have paid a consistent dividend for 120 consecutive years or more. In the United States, there are only 10 stocks that fit that category; not surprisingly, the list is made of pretty recognizable names. Proctor & Gamble Company (PG) may stand above all of them; its history stable dividend payments stretches back 129 years, with 63 years of consecutive increases in its dividend payout. That is a remarkable distinction that puts PG at the head of an elite group of corporate America, to be sure, and it is also true that the stock has performed remarkable well, with an upward trend that dates back to May of 2018 and has seen the stock increase in price by a little over 71%. Is this a stock you should consider adding to your portfolio? I’m not so sure it actually holds up as well as a lot of analysts like to think it should.

Fundamental and Value Profile

The Procter & Gamble Company is focused on providing branded consumer packaged goods to the consumers across the world. The Company operates through five segments: Beauty; Grooming; Health Care; Fabric & Home Care, and Baby, Feminine & Family Care. The Company sells its products in approximately 180 countries and territories primarily through mass merchandisers, grocery stores, membership club stores, drug stores, department stores, distributors, baby stores, specialty beauty stores, e-commerce, high-frequency stores and pharmacies. It offers products under the brands, such as Olay, Old Spice, Safeguard, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Rejoice, Mach3, Prestobarba, Venus, Cascade, Dawn, Febreze, Mr. Clean, Bounty and Charmin. PG’s current market cap is $303.5 billion.

Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased more than17%, while sales rose 3.5%. In the last quarter, earnings increased 3.77% and sales grew by 3.6%. Despite their positive earnings, pattern, PG is a company with a narrow margin profile that is significantly deteriorating. In the last quarter, Net Income as a percentage of Revenues was -3.06% versus 5.75% in the last twelve months. Negative Net Income is a red flag that I believe cancels out the usefulness of the stock’s positive earnings pattern.

Free Cash Flow: PG’s free cash flow is strong, at $12.2 billion. This is also a number that has increased steadily since the second quarter of 2017, and translates to a modest dividend yield of 4.08%.

Debt to Equity: PG has a debt/equity ratio of .44. This is a conservative number of first blush that generally suggests the company follows a conservative approach to leverage and debt management; but it doesn’t always tell the entire story, and that is true in PG’s case. Their balance sheet shows cash and liquid assets of $10.2 billion against long-term debt of $20.3 billion. That relationship isn’t alarming, but it should be noted that cash has declined from more than $18 billion at the beginning of 2018. Given the negative Net Income of the most recent quarter, that, along with the stock’s negative Net Income suggests that if things don’t improve soon, the company could face serious questions about its liquidity.

Dividend: PG pays an annual dividend of $2.98 per share, which translates to a yield of about 2.46% at the stock’s current price.

Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for PG is $18.60 and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 6.51 at the stock’s current price. This is another mark of weakness in my book, since PG’s Book Value one quarter prior was $21.77. Their historical average Price/Book ratio is 3.94, which means the stock is significantly overvalued, by nearly -40%. That puts a long-term “fair value” price on the stock at about $73 per share, which is near the lows it set in May 2018 before beginning its latest run higher.

Technical Profile

Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The diagonal red line traces the stock’s upward trend from May 2018 to now, and provides the reference for calculating the Fibonacci retracement levels indicated by the horizontal red lines on the right side of the chart. hit a 2-year high just a few days ago at about $123.50, but has retraced a bit from that point. The consistency and slope of the stock’s upward is impressive, and until the stock breaks below support around $115 to $116, it will be unlikely to show any kind of serious danger of breaking that upward trend. That does imply that any kind of positive turn in the stock’s price could be taken as a sign the stock is about rally to yet another set of highs. If the stock can break above $123.50, putting a new short-term target at around $130 (adding the distance between the last significant resistance break at $116 and the most recent high to $123.50) is a reasonable forecast. If however, the stock does break the $115 support level I just identified, it could drop to anywhere between $107 and $103, where the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement line sits. A drop below that level would likely signal a new, long-term trend reversal – but the stock is frankly a long way from calling for that trend right now.

Near-term Keys: PG has a lot of positive going for it – stable dividend, large cash position, recognizable name and massive market presence in a high-demand sector of the economy, all of which have certainly been factors in the stock’s strong upward trend to this point. That doesn’t make the stock a good long-term buy, and it certainly can’t be described as any kind of a good value-based pick right now. If you want to take a short-term approach, look for a break above $123.50 as a signal to buy the stock or work with call options with an eye on $130 as a price target. If the stock drops below $115, consider shorting the stock or working with put options, using anywhere between $110 and $107 as a useful exit point for a bearish trade.

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