• MARCH 31, 2009

Wipro: A dividend tortoise

In the previous article, we had discussed the application on Infosys, of a framework through which one could achieve returns entirely from dividends. In this article, we shall analyse the dividend track record of another software giant, Wipro through the same framework.

Wipro is India's third-largest software services exporter and has diversified business interests, which include software development, hardware and consumer care and lighting. The company began its swift transformation from a predominantly hardware company to a software services company in FY99. Since then, the contribution of Wipro Technologies, Wipro's IT services business, has been consistently on the rise and has been the major driver of revenue and profit growth.

Wipro: Dividend Tortoise
Source: CMIE
* Issued bonus   #Special dividend

Wipro had been continuously paying dividends during the last 18 years. It managed to grow its dividend per share at a CAGR of 16% between the period FY91 and FY08. During the same period its earnings per share grew at a CAGR of 12%. If we look at the dividend payout ratio, there seems to be lot of inconsistency. This was mainly on account of the companyís string of pearl strategy wherein it did many acquisitions. Thus between the period FY96 and FY03, a great deal of cash was diverted towards acquisitions, leaving little for paying dividends. Despite this, the average dividend payout ratio stood at 20% between the period FY91 and FY08. Given this track record, we believe that there is very little chance that the company will stop paying dividends to its share holders in future.

It may be also noted that the company has issued bonus shares five times and has also paid a special dividend during the last 18 years. This further reiterates our belief with regard to the managementís intentions of rewarding its shareholders.

At the current price, the dividend yield of Wipro is around 3%. Assuming that the company continues to grow its dividend per share at around 15%, the investor would be able to get a 10% return annually on his investment from 9th year onwards. This can be backed by the fact that Wipro has minimal capital expenditure. Moreover the company had a cash balance of around Rs 40 bn at the end of December 2008.

Conclusion: Despite the low current yield, the companyís strong cash reserves and sustained growth is likely to make Wipro a dividend earning source for long term investors. In fact, it is likely to become a dividend tortoise, slowly and steadily racing towards the 10% mark. However, investors should bear in mind that the desired returns can be achieved only if one stays invested in the company with a long term perspective. Also it is important that management policies and environment in which the company operates remain unchanged.

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