Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) stock has suddenly moved into rebound mode. After hitting a multi-year low of around $25 per share, the stock has surged over the last few weeks, taking Nordstrom stock to almost $35 per share.
JWN remains far away from delivering impressive profit growth, and its low multiple may not persuade investors to buy after the recent run-up. Still, it has become a lucrative choice for an unexpected group — dividend investors.
Nordstrom stock has seen an impressive run since it announced an earnings beat on Aug. 21. The report began a rally that has taken JWN stock higher by about 40% in less than a month. Positive developments on trade talks with China have further fueled the rally.
Yes, amid the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) threat, JWN and peers such as JCPenney (NYSE:JCP), Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) and Macy’s (NYSE:M) have faced challenges over the last few years. As late as 2015, Nordstrom stock traded at over $83 per share. However, fears of Amazon and factors such as the trade war have helped send JWN to recent lows of around $25 per share.
While the competition spelled bankruptcy for Sears (OTCMKTS:SHLDQ) and could for JCPenney, Nordstrom has found a way to remain relevant in a retail environment increasingly moving online. As a result, we now see a turnaround in Nordstrom stock.
Even with the huge run-up, the forward price-to-earnings ratio stands at about 10.4. That does not seem expensive. Also, it has maintained an average P/E ratio of around 18.7 over the previous five years and such multiples usually signal a strong long-term buy.
Still, looking at profits, one has to wonder if Nordstrom stock will face more permanent multiple compression. Analysts predict profits will shrink by 8.6% this year. For next year, Wall Street forecasts an increase of only 3.3%. It also predicts long-term earnings increases of 3.68% per year over the next five years. Given the slow pace of profit growth, the low P/E ratio alone would not persuade me to buy Nordstrom stock.
However, I see a reason for dividend investors to buy stock in JWN. The silver lining in the long-time decline in JWN stock is the rising dividend yield. As late as 2014, JWN investors earned 1.22% in dividends. At that time, investors received $1.32 per share. The annual payout now stands at $1.48 per share and has remained at that level since 2016.
Still, despite a modest increase, the yield has now risen to just over 4.3%. And it remains there despite the massive increase in the stock over the last month.
To be sure, this payout presents somewhat of a burden. With a dividend payout ratio of 49.33%, the payout claims nearly half of the company’s profits. Still, with growth returning, the company has no reason to put the stock at risk by cutting the dividend. Moreover, even with only 3%-plus profit growth, the payout ratio will fall over time.
Nordstrom stock should continue to rise over time, but not for a reason many would expect. Yes, the forward P/E of 10.4 looks cheap, both by S&P 500 and even by JWN standards. However, with profit growth expected to remain in the low-single-digits for years into the future, the P/E may not return to long-term averages of around 18.7.
Still, the long-term decline in Nordstrom stock has led to an unexpected result — a high dividend yield. JWN has become a well-suited vehicle for producing a cash return exceeding both the S&P 500 and most any bank deposit. Moreover, with a P/E ratio that remains low, they should receive the added benefit of a rising stock price.
For retail investors wanting both growth and income, JWN stock may have just become the equity of choice.
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