What Makes Hawthorn Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:HWBK) A Great Dividend Stock?

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Could Hawthorn Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:HWBK) 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. 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.

A 1.7% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Hawthorn Bancshares has some staying power. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Hawthorn Bancshares for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

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NasdaqGS:HWBK Historical Dividend Yield, July 10th 2019
NasdaqGS:HWBK Historical Dividend Yield, July 10th 2019

Payout ratios

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. 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 18% of Hawthorn Bancshares’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. We like this low payout ratio, because it implies the dividend is well covered and leaves ample opportunity for reinvestment.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well – nasty. Hawthorn Bancshares has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.55 in 2009, compared to US$0.46 last year. The dividend has shrunk at around 1.7% a year during that period.

We struggle to make a case for buying Hawthorn Bancshares for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past ten years.

Dividend Growth Potential

Examining whether the dividend is affordable and stable is important. However, it’s also important to assess if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient’s purchasing power. It’s good to see Hawthorn Bancshares has been growing its earnings per share at 25% a year over the past 5 years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly – an ideal combination.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Hawthorn Bancshares’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We’re glad to see Hawthorn Bancshares has a low payout ratio, as this suggests earnings are being reinvested in the business. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Hawthorn Bancshares has a credible record on several fronts, but falls slightly short of our standards for a dividend stock.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Hawthorn Bancshares in our latest insider ownership analysis.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

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. Thank you for reading.