Ralph Lauren Corporation (NYSE: RL) has what would appear to be good news in most headline watching: the high-end apparel maker is doubling its dividend. Unfortunately this is getting lost in the shuffle after its earnings report showed gains of 29%. The company has now declared a quarterly dividend of $0.40 per share, or $1.60 when you take it on an annualized basis, from its prior level of $0.20 per share per quarter. The prior rate is rounded up to 0.6% but the new rate based upon a $146.30 closing price would generate a dividend yield of 1.09%. Our aim is to see if a dividend that sounds this low really matters, and we want to see how it stacks up against large peer companies.
The dividend will be payable on July 13, 2012, to stockholders of record on June 29, 2012, with an ex-dividend date of June 27, 2012.
As far as how this dividend compares to the other large apparel makers, this is as follows: V.F. Corporation (NYSE: VFC) has close to a 2.1% dividend yield and Columbia Sportswear Company (NASDAQ: COLM) has a 1.9% yield. Having a 1% or 2% dividend might not sound huge on the surface when you consider the DJIA components and other dividend growers, but most of the large apparel companies either do not pay a dividend or they have a low yield. Accessories maker Coach, Inc. (NYSE: COH) has a 1.8% yield. Even the great sports apparel and equipment maker Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) pays only a 1.4% yield to investors.
Maybe a 1.1% dividend yield now isn’t so bad after all. The 5-year Treasury note pays only 0.74% and the 10-year Treasury pays 1.74% right now.
JON C. OGG