Would BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Limited (HKG:2388) Be Valuable To Income Investors?

Today we’ll take a closer look at BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Limited (HKG:2388) 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.

In this case, BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) likely looks attractive to investors, given its 7.1% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. We’d guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
SEHK:2388 Historic Dividend August 3rd 2020

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. In the last year, BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) paid out 50% of its profit as dividends. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

We update our data on BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

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. BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having been cut one or more times over this time. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.6 in 2010, compared to HK$1.5 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 10% per year over this time. The dividends haven’t grown at precisely 10% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

It’s not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We’re generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it’s even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there’s a good chance of bigger dividends in future? Earnings have grown at around 8.0% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! Earnings per share are growing at an acceptable rate, although the company is paying out more than half of its profits, which we think could constrain its ability to reinvest in its business.

We’d also point out that BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental – it’s hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that BOC Hong Kong (Holdings)’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. BOC Hong Kong (Holdings)’s payout ratio is within normal bounds. Unfortunately, earnings growth has also been mediocre, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. In summary, we’re unenthused by BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) as a dividend stock. It’s not that we think it is a bad company; it simply falls short of our criteria in some key areas.

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. Just as an example, we’ve come accross 2 warning signs for BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) you should be aware of, and 1 of them is potentially serious.

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