Are Dividend Investors Getting More Than They Bargained For With Nabors Industries Ltd.’s (NYSE:NBR) Dividend?

Could Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE:NBR) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.

So you may wish to consider our analysis of Nabors Industries’s financial health, here.

With a 1.7% yield and a seven-year payment history, investors probably think Nabors Industries looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.7% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Nabors Industries for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Nabors Industries!

NYSE:NBR Historical Dividend Yield, September 20th 2019
NYSE:NBR Historical Dividend Yield, September 20th 2019

Payout ratios

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. While Nabors Industries pays a dividend, it reported a loss over the last year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Last year, Nabors Industries paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

Dividend Volatility

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. Nabors Industries has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. The dividend has been quite stable over the past seven years, which is great to see – although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.16 in 2012, compared to US$0.04 last year. Dividend payments have fallen sharply, down 75% over that time.

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

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Over the past five years, it looks as though Nabors Industries’s EPS have declined at around 7.4% a year. A modest decline in earnings per share is not great to see, but it doesn’t automatically make a dividend unsustainable. Still, we’d vastly prefer to see EPS growth when researching dividend stocks.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Nabors Industries’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. It’s a concern to see that the company paid a dividend despite reporting a loss, and the dividend was also not well covered by free cash flow. Earnings per share are down, and to our mind Nabors Industries has not been paying a dividend long enough to demonstrate its resilience across economic cycles. In this analysis, Nabors Industries 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.

Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. See if the 21 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.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.