Battle of Dividends: Apple vs Walt Disney - Motley Fool

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Which dividend stock is a better bet over the next five years?

Daniel Sparks

While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) may both have small dividend yields, they have still proven to be good dividend stocks in recent years, thanks to their well-roundedness as income-generating investments.

Today, both companies continue to look like great dividend stocks. But which one is better? To find out, let's compare the two companies head-to-head on several important metrics.

A roll of hundred-dollar bills next to a sign that reads DIVIDENDS.

Image source: Getty Images.

Dividend yield

Company

Dividend Yield

Apple

1.5%

Walt Disney

1.3%

Data source: Apple and Walt Disney investor relations websites.

Apple's dividend yield of 1.5% is slightly more attractive than Disney's dividend yield of 1.3%.

Of course, both of these stocks' dividend yields are well below the average dividend yield of stocks in the S&P 500. On average, S&P 500 stocks have a dividend yield of 1.95%. Fortunately, Apple and Disney make up for their unimpressive dividend yields on the next two metrics.

Dividend growth

Company

5-Year Dividend CAGR

Apple

10.4%

Walt Disney

9.9%

Data source: Apple and Walt Disney investor relations websites. CAGR = compound average growth rate. 

Strong earnings growth for both Apple and Disney over the last five years has enabled them to increase their dividends every year. But Apple's dividend growth over this time frame beats Disney's. The tech giant increased its dividend every year by an average rate of 10.4%. For Disney, this rate was 9.9%.

Payout ratio

Company

Payout Ratio

Apple

27%

Walt Disney

19%

Data source: Reuters.

Of course, investors are likely more concerned with the two companies' abilities to keep growing their dividends in the coming years. To help gauge whether strong dividend growth can persist, investors should look to the two companies' payout ratios, or their dividend payments as a percentage of their earnings.

Paying out just 19% of its earnings in dividends, Disney has plenty of room for dividend increases in the coming years. Apple's payout ratio of 27% growth leaves less room, suggesting dividend growth may not come as easily.

Both companies' payout ratios, however, are very low. It's common to see dividend stocks with payout ratios between 60% and 90%.

Earnings growth potential

Company

5-Year EPS CAGR Forecast*

Apple

9.7%

Walt Disney

(3.5%)

Data source: Yahoo! Finance. *Based on analysts' average forecast. EPS = earnings per share. CAGR = compound average growth rate. 

While payout ratios give investors a picture of the two companies' capacities to increase their dividends in the near term, investors will also want to consider earnings-growth potential to get a better idea of what to expect from dividend growth. On average, analysts expect Apple's earnings per share (EPS) to rise at a rate of 9.7% annually over the next five years. For Disney, however, analysts expect EPS to contract. 

Both of these consensus analyst forecasts are reasonable.

Apple's fast-growing, high-margin services segment will likely contribute nicely to the company's EPS growth in the coming years. In addition, the company's aggressive share repurchase program may help boost the metric.

Disney, on the other hand, will likely be spending aggressively over the next five years as it transitions its business from linear TV to a direct-to-consumer model. The company will be investing aggressively in technology and original content. Of course, Disney's transition to a direct-to-consumer model in the coming years could lead to substantial earnings growth over the long haul. Further, it could pay off in outsize earnings growth sooner than analysts expect.

Investors should take these forecasts for what they are: estimates. There's no way to know exactly how either company will perform.

Nevertheless, Apple appears to have more overall potential as a dividend stock, beating out Disney on dividend yield, dividend growth trends, and earnings growth potential.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney, short October 2019 $125 calls on Walt Disney, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, and long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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