Today we’ll take a closer look at Tiptree Inc. (NASDAQ:TIPT) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.
A slim 2.4% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Tiptree could have potential. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 4.1% of the company’s market capitalisation at the time. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Tiptree for its dividend – read on to learn more.
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. Comparing dividend payments to a company’s net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Tiptree paid out 114% 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.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Tiptree’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Tiptree’s dividend payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.45 in 2010, compared to US$0.16 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 9.9% per year over that time. Tiptree’s dividend hasn’t shrunk linearly at 9.9% per annum, but the CAGR is a useful estimate of the historical rate of change.
When a company’s per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either external business conditions, or the company’s capital allocation decisions. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.
Dividend Growth Potential
Given that dividend payments have been shrinking like a glacier in a warming world, we need to check if there are some bright spots on the horizon. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it’s great to see Tiptree has grown its earnings per share at 26% per annum over the past five years. The company has been growing its EPS at a very rapid rate, while paying out virtually all of its income as dividends. Generally, a company that is growing rapidly while paying out a majority of its earnings, is seeing its debt burden increase. We’d be conscious of any extra risk added by this practice.
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. Tiptree is paying out a larger percentage of its profit than we’re comfortable with. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Tiptree might not be a bad business, but it doesn’t show all of the characteristics we look for in a dividend stock.
See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Tiptree stock.
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 email@example.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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