Dividend paying stocks like CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Limited (HKG:1093) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.
A 1.3% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests CSPC Pharmaceutical Group has some staying power. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding CSPC Pharmaceutical Group for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. Comparing dividend payments to a company’s net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, CSPC Pharmaceutical Group paid out 30% of its profit as dividends. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. CSPC Pharmaceutical Group paid out 53% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. It’s positive to see that CSPC Pharmaceutical Group’s dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company’s earnings, we do note CSPC Pharmaceutical Group’s strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of CSPC Pharmaceutical Group’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well – nasty. CSPC Pharmaceutical Group has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.20 in 2010, compared to CN¥0.18 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 1.0% per year over that time. CSPC Pharmaceutical Group’s dividend hasn’t shrunk linearly at 1.0% per annum, but the CAGR is a useful estimate of the historical rate of change.
A shrinking dividend over a ten-year period is not ideal, and we’d be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.
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? Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it’s great to see CSPC Pharmaceutical Group has grown its earnings per share at 28% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that CSPC Pharmaceutical Group’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that CSPC Pharmaceutical Group pays out a low fraction of earnings. It pays out a higher percentage of its cashflow, although this is within acceptable bounds. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. CSPC Pharmaceutical Group has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. Taking the debate a bit further, we’ve identified 1 warning sign for CSPC Pharmaceutical Group that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.