Is Glaxo's Dividend at Risk?

GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine and consumer business should generate steady cash flows, but any mis-step would probably lead to a dividend cut, says Morningstar's Damien Conover

Damien Conover, CFA 5 February, 2015 | 9:49AM
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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) reported fourth-quarter results largely in line with both our and consensus expectations, and we don't expect any changes to our fair value estimate. Despite the deteriorating pricing environment for Glaxo's key respiratory franchise; we believe the company's wide moat remains intact, supported by a portfolio of branded drugs and a strengthening competitive position in the vaccine and consumer health businesses.

With the asset swap with Novartis – gaining vaccines, losing cancer drugs, and joint venturing on consumer products – likely to close in the first half of 2015, Glaxo is strengthening its competitive position by gaining scale in core areas while exiting a suboptimal position in the cancer market. However, as the quarterly results show, the growth potential in Glaxo's vaccine and consumer business is probably much lower than with the cancer drugs. Nonetheless, the vaccine and consumer business should generate more steady cash flows as generic competition in these areas is much less prevalent.

The cash flows from the strengthening consumer and vaccine businesses and a stabilising respiratory franchise are critical in supporting the dividend. Any mis-steps in these businesses will probably result in a dividend cut as the payout ratio is close to 85%. While we remain confident in the consumer and vaccine businesses, we are concerned that stabilisation in the respiratory franchise, 27% of total sales, may take longer than the one year that management is targeting.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar
GlaxoSmithKline PLC1,441.80 GBX0.53Rating

About Author

Damien Conover, CFA  is an equity analyst and associate director at Morningstar.