Stock Analysis

Three Things You Should Check Before Buying ASX Limited (ASX:ASX) For Its Dividend

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ASX:ASX
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Dividend paying stocks like ASX Limited (ASX:ASX) 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. 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.

In this case, ASX likely looks attractive to investors, given its 3.4% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying ASX for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on ASX!

historic-dividend
ASX:ASX Historic Dividend February 3rd 2021

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, ASX paid out 93% of its profit as dividends. With a payout ratio this high, we'd say its dividend is not well covered by earnings. This may be fine if earnings are growing, but it might not take much of a downturn for the dividend to come under pressure.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of ASX'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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of ASX's dividend payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was AU$1.7 in 2011, compared to AU$2.5 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 3.5% per year over this time.

Slow and steady dividend growth might not sound that exciting, but dividends have been stable for ten years, which we think is seriously impressive.

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. ASX has grown its earnings per share at 4.6% per annum over the past five years. Still, the company has struggled to grow its EPS, and currently pays out 93% of its earnings. As they say in finance, 'past performance is not indicative of future performance', but we are not confident a company with limited earnings growth and a high payout ratio will be a star dividend-payer over the next decade.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that ASX's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, it's not great to see how much of its earnings are being paid as dividends. Second, earnings growth has been mediocre, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. In summary, we're unenthused by ASX 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.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. For example, we've picked out 1 warning sign for ASX that investors should know about before committing capital to this stock.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

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