Read This Before Buying Fleetwood Limited (ASX:FWD) For Its Dividend

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 30, 2021
ASX:FWD
Source: Shutterstock

Today we'll take a closer look at Fleetwood Limited (ASX:FWD) 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. Unfortunately, it's common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.

While Fleetwood's 2.3% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Fleetwood for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
ASX:FWD Historic Dividend March 30th 2021

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 1,782% of Fleetwood's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Fleetwood paid out 8.1% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservative and suggests the dividend is sustainable. It's good to see that while Fleetwood's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.

With a strong net cash balance, Fleetwood investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Fleetwood's financial position here.

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. Fleetwood 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 AU$0.7 in 2011, compared to AU$0.06 last year. This works out to a decline of approximately 91% over that time.

We struggle to make a case for buying Fleetwood for its dividend, given that payments have shrunk over the past 10 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 Fleetwood has been growing its earnings per share at 18% a year over the past five years. With a payout ratio of 1,782%, Fleetwood is paying out dividends substantially greater than what it earned in profit.

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 its high payout ratio, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. 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. Ultimately, Fleetwood comes up short on our dividend analysis. It's not that we think it is a bad company - just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. For example, we've identified 3 warning signs for Fleetwood (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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