Dividend paying stocks like Hurco Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ:HURC) 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.
With a 1.9% yield and a seven-year payment history, investors probably think Hurco Companies looks like a reliable dividend stock. A 1.9% yield is not inspiring, but the longer payment history has some appeal. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 2.4% of the company’s market capitalisation at the time. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Hurco Companies for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.
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. 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. Looking at the data, we can see that 429% of Hurco Companies’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.
We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Unfortunately, while Hurco Companies 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.
With a strong net cash balance, Hurco Companies investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
We update our data on Hurco Companies every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. Looking at the data, we can see that Hurco Companies has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we’re conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.2 in 2013, compared to US$0.5 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 15% a year over that time.
We’re not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.
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. Hurco Companies’s earnings per share have shrunk at 45% a year over the past five years. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.
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. We’re a bit uncomfortable with Hurco Companies paying out a high percentage of both its cashflow and earnings. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and the dividend history is shorter than we’d like. In this analysis, Hurco Companies doesn’t shape up too well as a dividend stock. We’d find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. As an example, we’ve identified 3 warning signs for Hurco Companies that you should be aware of before investing.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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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