Could VP Bank AG (VTX:VPBN) Have The Makings Of Another Dividend Aristocrat?

Is VP Bank AG (VTX:VPBN) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

One way to look into the risks is to look at a snapshot of VP Bank’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

With VP Bank yielding 3.7% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 2.5% of the company’s market capitalisation at the time. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding VP Bank for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

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SWX:VPBN Historical Dividend Yield, November 25th 2019
SWX:VPBN Historical Dividend Yield, November 25th 2019

Payout ratios

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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company’s net income after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 54% of VP Bank’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.

Dividend Volatility

From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. VP Bank has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CHF2.50 in 2009, compared to CHF5.50 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8.2% a year over that time. VP Bank’s dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn’t grown 8.2% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

A reasonable rate of dividend growth is good to see, but we’re wary that the dividend history is not as solid as we’d like, having been cut at least once.

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 VP Bank has been growing its earnings per share at 10% a year over the past five years. VP Bank’s earnings per share have grown rapidly in recent years, although more than half of its profits are being paid out as dividends, which makes us wonder if the company has a limited number of reinvestment opportunities in its business.

Conclusion

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. VP Bank’s payout ratio is within an average range for most market participants. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In summary, we’re unenthused by VP Bank as a dividend stock. It’s not that we think it is a bad company; it simply falls short of our criteria in some key areas.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 3 VP Bank analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.