Dividend Investors: Don’t Be Too Quick To Buy Summit Industrial Income REIT (TSE:SMU.UN) For Its Upcoming Dividend

Summit Industrial Income REIT (TSE:SMU.UN) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 30th of October in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 15th of November.

Summit Industrial Income REIT’s upcoming dividend is CA$0.04 a share, following on from the last 12 months, when the company distributed a total of CA$0.5 per share to shareholders. Calculating the last year’s worth of payments shows that Summit Industrial Income REIT has a trailing yield of 4.2% on the current share price of CA$12.83. We love seeing companies pay a dividend, but it’s also important to be sure that laying the golden eggs isn’t going to kill our golden goose! We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it’s growing.

View our latest analysis for Summit Industrial Income REIT

Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. It paid out 75% of its earnings as dividends last year, which is not unreasonable, but limits reinvestment in the business and leaves the dividend vulnerable to a business downturn. We’d be worried about the risk of a drop in earnings. While Summit Industrial Income REIT seems to be paying out a very high percentage of its income, REITs have different dividend payment behaviour and so, while we don’t think this is great, we also don’t think it is unusual. That said, even highly profitable companies sometimes might not generate enough cash to pay the dividend, which is why we should always check if the dividend is covered by cash flow. Over the past year it paid out 155% of its free cash flow as dividends, which is uncomfortably high. It’s hard to consistently pay out more cash than you generate without either borrowing or using company cash, so we’d wonder how the company justifies this payout level.

While Summit Industrial Income REIT’s dividends were covered by the company’s reported profits, cash is somewhat more important, so it’s not great to see that the company didn’t generate enough cash to pay its dividend. Were this to happen repeatedly, this would be a risk to Summit Industrial Income REIT’s ability to maintain its dividend.

Click here to see how much of its profit Summit Industrial Income REIT paid out over the last 12 months.

TSX:SMU.UN Historical Dividend Yield, October 25th 2019
TSX:SMU.UN Historical Dividend Yield, October 25th 2019

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. Investors love dividends, so if earnings fall and the dividend is reduced, expect a stock to be sold off heavily at the same time. Summit Industrial Income REIT’s earnings per share have fallen at approximately 5.1% a year over the previous five years. When earnings per share fall, the maximum amount of dividends that can be paid also falls.

Summit Industrial Income REIT also issued more than 5% of its market cap in new stock during the past year, which we feel is likely to hurt its dividend prospects in the long run. Trying to grow the dividend while issuing large amounts of new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus – perpetually pushing a boulder uphill.

Many investors will assess a company’s dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Summit Industrial Income REIT has seen its dividend decline 13% per annum on average over the past ten years, which is not great to see. It’s never nice to see earnings and dividends falling, but at least management has cut the dividend rather than potentially risk the company’s health in an attempt to maintain it.

To Sum It Up

Is Summit Industrial Income REIT worth buying for its dividend? It’s definitely not great to see earnings per share shrinking. The company paid out an acceptable percentage of its income, but an uncomfortably high percentage of its cash flow over the past year. Overall it doesn’t look like the most suitable dividend stock for a long-term buy and hold investor.

Curious about whether Summit Industrial Income REIT has been able to consistently generate growth? Here’s a chart of its historical revenue and earnings growth.

If you’re in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

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.