Dividend paying stocks like Shore Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:SHBI) 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 stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.
A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for Shore Bancshares. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 3.5% of its market capitalisation. Remember though, given the recent drop in its share price, Shore Bancshares’s yield will look higher, even though the market may now be expecting a decline in its long-term prospects. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Shore Bancshares for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.
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. In the last year, Shore Bancshares paid out 36% of its profit as dividends. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.
We update our data on Shore Bancshares 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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Shore Bancshares’s dividend payments. Its dividend payments have declined on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.64 in 2010, compared to US$0.48 last year. The dividend has shrunk at around 2.8% a year during that period. Shore Bancshares’s dividend has been cut sharply at least once, so it hasn’t fallen by 2.8% every year, but this is a decent approximation of the long term change.
We struggle to make a case for buying Shore Bancshares for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past ten years.
Dividend Growth Potential
Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. It’s good to see Shore Bancshares has been growing its earnings per share at 22% a year over the past five years. With high earnings per share growth in recent times and a modest payout ratio, we think this is an attractive combination if earnings can be reinvested to generate further growth.
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. We’re glad to see Shore 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. Overall we think Shore Bancshares is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.
It’s important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. For example, we’ve identified 3 warning signs for Shore Bancshares (1 is concerning!) 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. Thank you for reading.