Is China Oriental Group Company Limited (HKG:581) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Unfortunately, it’s common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.
A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for China Oriental Group. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding China Oriental 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. So we need to form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, China Oriental Group paid out 20% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.
We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Last year, China Oriental Group paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company’s earnings, we do note China Oriental Group’s strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
We update our data on China Oriental Group every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of China Oriental Group’s dividend payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.07 in 2010, compared to CN¥0.1 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 6.9% per year over this time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.
It’s good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. China Oriental Group might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.
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 China Oriental Group has grown its earnings per share at 94% per annum over the past five 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.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that China Oriental Group’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we like China Oriental Group’s low dividend payout ratio, although we’re a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Ultimately, China Oriental Group comes up short on our dividend analysis. It’s not that we think it is a bad company – just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.
It’s important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. For example, we’ve identified 4 warning signs for China Oriental Group (2 are concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.
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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.
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