Zooming in on EPA:ERA’s 1.3% Dividend Yield

Dividend paying stocks like ERAMET S.A. (EPA:ERA) 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 popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.

So you may wish to consider our analysis of ERAMET’s financial health, here.

While ERAMET’s 1.3% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding ERAMET for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on ERAMET!

ENXTPA:ERA Historical Dividend Yield, September 29th 2019
ENXTPA:ERA Historical Dividend Yield, September 29th 2019

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. While ERAMET pays a dividend, it reported a loss over the last year. When a company is loss-making, we next need to check to see if its cash flows can support the dividend.

Unfortunately, while ERAMET pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it’s not ideal from a dividend perspective.

Is ERAMET’s Balance Sheet Risky?

Given ERAMET is paying a dividend but reported a loss over the past year, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company’s total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. With net debt of 1.48 times its EBITDA, ERAMET has an acceptable level of debt.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Interest cover of 3.63 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for ERAMET, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.

Dividend Volatility

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. ERAMET has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. Its dividend payments have fallen by 20% or more on at least one occasion over the past ten years. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €5.25 in 2009, compared to €0.60 last year. The dividend has fallen 89% over that period.

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

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it’s even more important to see if EPS are growing. It’s good to see ERAMET has been growing its earnings per share at 45% a year over the past five years.

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. We’re a bit uncomfortable with ERAMET paying a dividend while loss-making, especially since the dividend was also not well covered by free cash flow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In summary, ERAMET has a number of shortcomings that we’d find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are likely more attractive alternatives out there.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 5 analysts we track are forecasting for ERAMET for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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.