Friday, May 11, 2012

Stock Analysis: Clorox

The Clorox Company (CLX) manufactures and markets consumer and institutional products worldwide. The company operates in four segments: Cleaning, Lifestyle, Household, and International. This dividend champion has paid uninterrupted dividends on its common stock since 1968 and increased payments to common shareholders every for 34 consecutive years.

The company’s last dividend increase was in February 2011 when the Board of Directors approved a 9.10% increase to 60 cents/share. Clorox ‘s largest competitors include Procter & Gamble (PG), Colgate Palmolive (CL) and Kimberly-Clark (KMB).

Over the past decade this dividend growth stock has delivered an annualized total return of 8% to its shareholders.

The company has managed to deliver 4.70% in annual EPS growth since 2002. Analysts expect Clorox to earn $4.08 per share in 2012 and $4.41 per share in 2013. In comparison Clorox earned $2.07/share in 2011. The low earnings in 2011 were caused by a $1.85/share one-time non- cash Goodwill Impairment charge related to Burt’s Bee’s business. The EPS growth comes out to 12.40% per year if the effects of this goodwill impairment are excluded.

The company has managed to maintain a consistently high return on assets except for 2002 and 2011. Rather than focus on absolute values for this indicator, I generally want to see at least a stable return on equity over time.
The annual dividend payment has increased by 11.30% per year over the past decade, which is lower than to the growth in EPS.

An 11% growth in distributions translates into the dividend payment doubling almost every six and a half years. If we look at historical data, going as far back as 1983 we see that Clorox has managed to double its dividend every seven years on average.

Over the past decade, the dividend payout ratio has remained below 50%, with the exception of 2002 and 2011. Excluding the goodwill impairment, the payout ratio for 2011 would have been 56%. A lower payout is always a plus, since it leaves room for consistent dividend growth minimizing the impact of short-term fluctuations in earnings.

Currently Clorox is attractively valued at 16.60 times earnings, has a sustainable dividend payout and yields 3.50%. I would consider adding to my position subject to availability of funds.

Full Disclosure: Long CLX, CL, KMB, PG
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