Is FlexiGroup Limited (ASX:FXL) A Good Fit For Your Dividend Portfolio?

Could FlexiGroup Limited (ASX:FXL) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.

In this case, FlexiGroup likely looks attractive to investors, given its 4.2% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. 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 FlexiGroup for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.

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ASX:FXL Historical Dividend Yield, February 21st 2020
ASX:FXL Historical Dividend Yield, February 21st 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. In the last year, FlexiGroup paid out 48% of its profit as dividends. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of FlexiGroup’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of FlexiGroup’s dividend payments. Its dividend payments have declined on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.06 in 2010, compared to AU$0.077 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 2.5% a year over that 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.

We’re glad to see the dividend has risen, but with a limited rate of growth and fluctuations in the payments, we don’t think this is an attractive combination.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. In the last five years, FlexiGroup’s earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 3.5% per annum. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company’s dividend.

We’d also point out that FlexiGroup issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental – it’s hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

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. We’re glad to see FlexiGroup has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. Earnings per share are down, and FlexiGroup’s dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. In summary, we’re unenthused by FlexiGroup 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.

Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. See if the 6 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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.

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