Intel stock's dividend sticks out among chip makers. But a cut may be coming.
By Philip van Doorn
Intel's free cash flow isn't expected to support its current dividend payout
Semiconductor stocks have been on a tear so far this year, following a difficult 2022. But now that we're in the thick of fourth-quarter earnings season, investors will be questioning whether or not Intel will be able to maintain its impressive 4.82% dividend -- for more than one reason.
Intel Corp. (INTC) is scheduled to announce its fourth-quarter results after the close on Jan. 26.
Also read: Intel earnings will be more about the future than the past
As it navigates a difficult environment for chip makers, Intel has already lowered its sales forecasts considerably. But a dividend cut might reverse the recent gains for its share price.
Below is a screen of the SOX Semiconductor Index of 30 important industry players, to see how well expected free cash flows measure up against dividends.
First, check out how Intel's stock has performed since the end of 2021 against iShares Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), all with dividends reinvested.
The action has been improving. Following last year's declines, SPY is up 5% so far in 2023 while Intel is up 13% and SOXX is up 15%. Analysts are already talking about the timing of the semiconductor industry's bottom for this economic cycle.
Read:Texas Instruments comfortable with high chip inventory, claims it better serves broad customer base
Screening for dividend headroom
Fiscal years vary, so the following analysis includes consensus estimates for calendar years, as adjusted by FactSet.
A company's free cash flow is its remaining cash flow after capital expenditures. This is money that can be used to pay dividends, make acquisitions, fund organic expansions or used for other corporate purposes that may benefit shareholders.
We can divide a company's estimated free cash flow (FCF) by its current share price for an estimated free cash flow yield. If we compare this to the current dividend yield, we can see whether or not a company appears to have headroom to cover the dividend and even increase the payout.
Here's a list of the 23 companies among the SOXX 30 that pay dividends, along with expected FCF yields for 2023. The list is sorted by current dividend yield.
Company Ticker Country Dividend yield Estimated 2023 FCF yield Estimated FCF headroom ASE Technology Holding Co. Ltd. ADR ASX Taiwan 7.67% 9.71% 2.03% United Microelectronics Corp. ADR UMC Taiwan 6.26% 1.78% -4.48% Intel Corp. INTC U.S. 4.88% -1.77% N/A Broadcom Inc. AVGO U.S. 3.15% 7.25% 4.11% Texas Instruments Inc. TXN U.S. 2.80% 2.73% -0.07% Skyworks Solutions Inc. SWKS U.S. 2.31% 13.03% 10.71% Qualcomm Inc. QCOM U.S. 2.30% 10.09% 7.79% NXP Semiconductors NV NXPI Netherlands 1.95% 6.48% 4.53% Analog Devices Inc. ADI U.S. 1.80% 5.49% 3.69% Microchip Technology Inc. MCHP U.S. 1.73% 6.70% 4.97% Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. ADR TSM Taiwan 1.48% 3.23% 1.75% Lam Research Corp. LRCX U.S. 1.42% 5.90% 4.49% KLA Corp. KLAC U.S. 1.23% 5.09% 3.86% Applied Materials Inc. AMAT U.S. 0.92% 7.78% 6.86% MKS Instruments Inc. MKSI U.S. 0.85% N/A N/A ASML Holding NV ADR ASML Netherlands 0.84% 2.54% 1.69% Micron Technology Inc. MU U.S. 0.73% -3.10% N/A Monolithic Power Systems Inc. MPWR U.S. 0.72% 2.69% 1.98% Marvell Technology Inc. MRVL U.S. 0.56% 3.66% 3.09% Entegris Inc. ENTG U.S. 0.50% N/A N/A STMicroelectronics NV ADR STM Switzerland 0.48% 2.67% 2.19% Teradyne Inc. TER U.S. 0.43% 3.71% 3.28% Nvidia Corp. NVDA U.S. 0.08% 1.86% 1.78% Source: FactSet
Click the tickers for more about each company.
Read: Tomi Kilgore's detailed guide to the wealth of information available for free on the MarketWatch quote page
Notes about the data:
Here's a closer look at current dividend rates and expected FCF per share for the same group, in the same order, through 2024.
Company Ticker Current annual dividend rate Estimated 2023 FCF per share Estimated 2024 FCF per share ASE Technology Holding Co. Ltd. ADR ASX $0.57 $0.72 $0.77 United Microelectronics Corp. ADR UMC $0.49 $0.14 $0.34 Intel Corp. INTC $1.46 -$0.53 -$0.16 Broadcom Inc. AVGO $18.40 $42.44 N/A Texas Instruments Inc. TXN $4.96 $4.83 $6.48 Skyworks Solutions Inc. SWKS $2.48 $13.98 $13.60 Qualcomm Inc. QCOM $3.00 $13.19 $13.84 NXP Semiconductors NV NXPI $3.38 $11.23 $12.14 Analog Devices Inc. ADI $3.04 $9.27 N/A Microchip Technology Inc. MCHP $1.31 $5.08 $5.15 Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. ADR TSM $1.40 $3.06 $4.30 Lam Research Corp. LRCX $6.90 $28.77 $29.82 KLA Corp. KLAC $5.20 $21.55 $19.56 Applied Materials Inc. AMAT $1.04 $8.79 $6.34 MKS Instruments Inc. MKSI $0.88 N/A N/A ASML Holding NV ADR ASML $5.64 $16.99 $21.61 Micron Technology Inc. MU $0.45 -$1.90 $1.11 Monolithic Power Systems Inc. MPWR $3.00 $11.28 $12.82 Marvell Technology Inc. MRVL $0.24 $1.56 $2.30 Entegris Inc. ENTG $0.40 N/A N/A STMicroelectronics NV ADR STM $0.20 $1.14 $1.88 Teradyne Inc. TER $0.44 $3.82 $4.92 Nvidia Corp. NVDA $0.16 $3.58 $5.21 Source: FactSet
Intel is unique among the group, as it is expected to show negative FCF per share in 2023 and 2024. Micron is expected to run negative FCF in 2023 before returning to positive free cash flow in 2024.
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January 25, 2023 07:09 ET (12:09 GMT)
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