Does It Make Sense To Buy Adams Resources & Energy, Inc. (NYSEMKT:AE) For Its Yield?

Dividend paying stocks like Adams Resources & Energy, Inc. (NYSEMKT:AE) 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. 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 slim 2.6% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Adams Resources & Energy could have potential. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

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AMEX:AE Historical Dividend Yield, January 23rd 2020
AMEX:AE Historical Dividend Yield, January 23rd 2020

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, 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. Adams Resources & Energy paid out 228% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Last year, Adams Resources & Energy paid a dividend while reporting negative free cash flow. While there may be an explanation, we think this behaviour is generally not sustainable.

With a strong net cash balance, Adams Resources & Energy investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

We update our data on Adams Resources & Energy every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. Adams Resources & Energy 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 stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.50 in 2010, compared to US$0.96 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.7% a year over that time.

Businesses that can grow their dividends at a decent rate and maintain a stable payout can generate substantial wealth for shareholders over the long term.

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 Adams Resources & Energy’s EPS have declined at around 40% a year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Adams Resources & Energy’s earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. It’s a concern to see that the company paid out such a high percentage of its earnings and cashflow as dividends. Moreover, earnings have been shrinking. While the dividends have been fairly steady, we’d wonder for how much longer this will be sustainable if earnings continue to decline. There are a few too many issues for us to get comfortable with Adams Resources & Energy from a dividend perspective. Businesses can change, but we would struggle to identify why an investor should rely on this stock for their income.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Adams Resources & Energy in our latest insider ownership analysis.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 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.

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