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Dividend paying stocks like Tian An China Investments Company Limited (HKG:28) 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 the income from dividends, it’s important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.
In this case, Tian An China Investments likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 5.1% dividend yield and nine-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics – but there’s always more to the story . Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through this below.
Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. So we need to form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 24% of Tian An China Investments’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. We’d say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Tian An China Investments paid out 375% of its free cash flow last year, which we think is concerning if cash flows do not improve. Paying out such a high percentage of cash flow suggests that the dividend was funded from either cash at bank or by borrowing, neither of which is desirable over the long term. Tian An China Investments paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn’t generate enough free cash flow to cover the dividend. Cash is king, as they say, and were Tian An China Investments to repeatedly pay dividends that aren’t well covered by cashflow, we would consider this a warning sign.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Tian An China Investments’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. The first recorded dividend for Tian An China Investments, in the last decade, was nine years ago. Although it has been paying a dividend for several years now, the dividend has been cut at least once by more than 20%, and we’re cautious about the consistency of its dividend across a full economic cycle. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.07 in 2010, compared to HK$0.20 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 12% a year over that time. The dividends haven’t grown at precisely 12% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.
So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it’s even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there’s a good chance of bigger dividends in future? It’s good to see Tian An China Investments has been growing its earnings per share at 33% a year over the past 5 years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly – an ideal combination.
Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. First, we like Tian An China Investments’s low dividend payout ratio, although we’re a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Tian An China Investments from a dividend perspective. It’s not that we think it’s a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.
Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Tian An China Investments management tenure, salary, and performance.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
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.