Agilent Joins The Great Dividend Chase (A)

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Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is often forgotten about by investors now, but the company operates in more than 100 nations and employs more than 18,000 workers.  The company is into chemical analysis, life sciences, electronics and communications. Now it wants to stand out to investors by joining the ranks of established companies which pay shareholders a dividend.

The company has now declared a $0.10 per quarter dividend, which is its first regular dividend paid to shareholders.  The payment will be paid on April 25 to holders of record as of the close on April 3.

After a 0.8% gain to $40.30, the goal here was simple: a 1% dividend yield for investors.  It is not much at $0.40 on an annualized basis but that implies much room for growth in that payout ahead.  The market value is $14 billion today and the $40.30 price compares to a 52-week range of $28.67 to $55.33.

There is a massive coverage ratio here on income versus payouts as well if the company comes anywhere close to its Thomson Reuters estimates.  The $0.40 per year compares to earnings estimates of $3.18 EPS for fiscal October-2012 and $3.51 EPS for fiscal October-2013.  While those are non-GAAP earnings and companies generally have to base dividends on Cash earnings or GAAP earnings, that comes to only 12.5% of the projected income to be paid out in dividends.

As of October 31, 2011, Agilent had some $3.527 billion in cash and cash equivalents, with total equity at $4.3 billion and net tangible assets of $2.3 billion.