Is Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (ASX:API) A Good Fit For Your Dividend Portfolio?

Dividend paying stocks like Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (ASX:API) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.

A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Australian Pharmaceutical Industries for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.

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ASX:API Historical Dividend Yield, March 16th 2020
ASX:API Historical Dividend Yield, March 16th 2020

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. Australian Pharmaceutical Industries paid out 69% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. 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.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Unfortunately, while Australian Pharmaceutical Industries pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it’s not ideal from a dividend perspective.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Australian Pharmaceutical Industries’s financial position 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. Australian Pharmaceutical Industries 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 cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.02 in 2010, compared to AU$0.077 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 15% per year over this time. Australian Pharmaceutical Industries’s dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn’t grown 15% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

It’s not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We’re generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.

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 Australian Pharmaceutical Industries has grown its earnings per share at 23% per annum over the past five years. With recent, rapid earnings per share growth and a payout ratio of 69%, this business looks like an interesting prospect if earnings are reinvested effectively.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Australian Pharmaceutical Industries’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, the company has a payout ratio that was within an average range for most dividend stocks, but it paid out virtually all of its generated 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, Australian Pharmaceutical Industries 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.

Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. Case in point: We’ve spotted 4 warning signs for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (of which 2 shouldn’t be ignored!) you should know about.

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.

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.