We Wouldn’t Be Too Quick To Buy Computime Group Limited (HKG:320) Before It Goes Ex-Dividend

Regular readers will know that we love our dividends at Simply Wall St, which is why it’s exciting to see Computime Group Limited (HKG:320) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 3 days. You will need to purchase shares before the 11th of September to receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 6th of October.

Computime Group’s next dividend payment will be HK$0.013 per share. Last year, in total, the company distributed HK$0.013 to shareholders. Based on the last year’s worth of payments, Computime Group has a trailing yield of 4.4% on the current stock price of HK$0.3. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Computime Group’s dividend is reliable and sustainable. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it’s growing.

Check out our latest analysis for Computime Group

Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. Last year, Computime Group paid out 100% of its income as dividends, which is above a level that we’re comfortable with, especially if the company needs to reinvest in its business. Yet cash flows are even more important than profits for assessing a dividend, so we need to see if the company generated enough cash to pay its distribution. The good news is it paid out just 5.7% of its free cash flow in the last year.

It’s disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and Computime Group fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we’d be concerned. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.

Click here to see how much of its profit Computime Group paid out over the last 12 months.

historic-dividend
SEHK:320 Historic Dividend September 7th 2020

Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?

Businesses with shrinking earnings are tricky from a dividend perspective. If earnings decline and the company is forced to cut its dividend, investors could watch the value of their investment go up in smoke. Computime Group’s earnings per share have plummeted approximately 32% a year over the previous five years.

The main way most investors will assess a company’s dividend prospects is by checking the historical rate of dividend growth. Computime Group’s dividend payments per share have declined at 3.1% per year on average over the past 10 years, which is uninspiring. While it’s not great that earnings and dividends per share have fallen in recent years, we’re encouraged by the fact that management has trimmed the dividend rather than risk over-committing the company in a risky attempt to maintain yields to shareholders.

Final Takeaway

Should investors buy Computime Group for the upcoming dividend? It’s never great to see earnings per share declining, especially when a company is paying out 100% of its profit as dividends, which we feel is uncomfortably high. Yet cashflow was much stronger, which makes us wonder if there are some large timing issues in Computime Group’s cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. It’s not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we’d probably give this one a miss for now.

Having said that, if you’re looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with Computime Group. Our analysis shows 4 warning signs for Computime Group that we strongly recommend you have a look at before investing in the company.

A common investment mistake is buying the first interesting stock you see. Here you can find a list of promising dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.

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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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