Should You Buy Cedar Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE:CDR) For Its 7.7% Dividend?

Today we’ll take a closer look at Cedar Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE:CDR) 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. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it’s important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you’ll find our analysis useful.

So you may wish to consider our analysis of Cedar Realty Trust’s financial health, here.

With Cedar Realty Trust yielding 7.7% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 4.0% of the company’s market capitalisation at the time. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through this below.

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NYSE:CDR Historical Dividend Yield, November 23rd 2019
NYSE:CDR Historical Dividend Yield, November 23rd 2019

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. 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. Cedar Realty Trust paid out 67% 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.

We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Cedar Realty Trust paid out 53% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. It’s encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don’t drop precipitously.

REITs like Cedar Realty Trust often have different rules governing their distributions, so a higher payout ratio on its own is not unusual.

Is Cedar Realty Trust’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As Cedar Realty Trust has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of 8.47 times its EBITDA, Cedar Realty Trust could be described as a highly leveraged company. While some companies can handle this level of leverage, we’d be concerned about the dividend sustainability if there was any risk of an earnings downturn.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Interest cover of 1.56 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Cedar Realty Trust, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well. High debt and weak interest cover are not a great combo, and we would be cautious of relying on this company’s dividend while these metrics persist. That said, Cedar Realty Trust is in the real estate business, which is typically able to sustain much higher levels of debt, relative to other industries.

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. Cedar Realty Trust has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. Its dividend payments have fallen by 20% or more on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.45 in 2009, compared to US$0.20 last year. This works out to be a decline of approximately 7.8% per year over that time. Cedar Realty Trust’s dividend has been cut sharply at least once, so it hasn’t fallen by 7.8% every year, but this is a decent approximation of the long term change.

A shrinking dividend over a ten-year period is not ideal, and we’d be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.

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. Cedar Realty Trust’s earnings per share have shrunk at 24% a year over the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Cedar Realty Trust’s earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Cedar Realty Trust’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we think Cedar Realty Trust is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Earnings per share are down, and Cedar Realty Trust’s dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. In summary, Cedar Realty Trust has a number of shortcomings that we’d find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are likely more attractive alternatives out there.

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 4 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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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