Would Heritage Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HRTG) Be Valuable To Income Investors?

Could Heritage Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HRTG) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.

With a 1.8% yield and a four-year payment history, investors probably think Heritage Insurance Holdings looks like a reliable dividend stock. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. The company also returned around 3.7% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett’s two rules: 1) Don’t lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We’ll run through some checks below to help with this.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Heritage Insurance Holdings!

NYSE:HRTG Historical Dividend Yield, January 20th 2020
NYSE:HRTG Historical Dividend Yield, January 20th 2020

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. Looking at the data, we can see that 35% of Heritage Insurance Holdings’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Heritage Insurance Holdings’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Heritage Insurance Holdings has been paying a dividend for the past four years. The dividend has not fluctuated much, but with a relatively short payment history, we can’t be sure this is sustainable across a full market cycle. During the past four-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.20 in 2016, compared to US$0.24 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 4.7% per year over this time.

It’s good to see at least some dividend growth. Yet with a relatively short dividend paying history, we wouldn’t want to depend on this dividend too heavily.

Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Heritage Insurance Holdings’s EPS have fallen by approximately 22% per year during the past five years. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. Firstly, we like that Heritage Insurance Holdings has a low and conservative payout ratio. Earnings per share are down, and to our mind Heritage Insurance Holdings has not been paying a dividend long enough to demonstrate its resilience across economic cycles. In summary, we’re unenthused by Heritage Insurance 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.

See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Heritage Insurance Holdings stock.

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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