Dividend paying stocks like Pine Care Group Limited (HKG:1989) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason – some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it’s important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you’ll find our analysis useful.
Some readers mightn’t know much about Pine Care Group’s 2.6% dividend, as it has only been paying distributions for the last two years. A low dividend might not be a bad thing, if the company is reinvesting heavily and growing its sales and profits. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Pine Care Group for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. So we need to form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Pine Care Group paid out 109% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Last year, Pine Care Group paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.
Is Pine Care Group’s Balance Sheet Risky?
As Pine Care Group’s dividend was not well covered by earnings, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 16.70 times, Pine Care Group is very highly levered. While this debt might be serviceable, we would still say it carries substantial risk for the investor who hopes to live on the dividend.
Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Pine Care Group has EBIT of 7.30 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate. Despite a decent level of interest cover, shareholders should remain cautious about the high level of net debt. Rising rates or tighter debt markets have a nasty habit of making fools of highly-indebted dividend stocks.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Pine Care Group’s financial position here.
Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. It has only been paying dividends for a few short years, and the dividend has already been cut at least once. This is one income stream we’re not ready to live on. During the past two-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.034 in 2017, compared to HK$0.016 last year. The dividend has fallen 52% over that period.
When a company’s per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either external business conditions, or the company’s capital allocation decisions. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it’s even more important to see if EPS are growing. Pine Care Group’s EPS have fallen by approximately 28% per year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Pine Care Group’s earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.
When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. Pine Care Group paid out almost all of its cash flow and profit as dividends, leaving little to reinvest in the business. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. In this analysis, Pine Care Group doesn’t shape up too well as a dividend stock. We’d find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.
See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Pine Care Group stock.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.