Read This Before Buying Imperial Pacific Limited (ASX:IPC) For Its Dividend

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Today we’ll take a closer look at Imperial Pacific Limited (ASX:IPC) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong dividend company 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, Imperial Pacific likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 5.5% dividend yield and nine-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics – but there’s always more to the story . 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 Imperial Pacific!
ASX:IPC Historical Dividend Yield, May 6th 2019
ASX:IPC Historical Dividend Yield, May 6th 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, 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. Although it reported a loss over the past 12 months, Imperial Pacific currently pays a dividend. When a company is loss-making, we next need to check to see if its cash flows can support the dividend.

With a loss in the last year, it becomes even more important to evaluate if the company is generating enough cash flow to pay its dividend and meet its obligations. Unfortunately, while Imperial Pacific 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.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Imperial Pacific’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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that Imperial Pacific paid its first dividend at least nine years ago. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we’re conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.035 in 2010, compared to AU$0.063 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 6.7% per year over this time.

Imperial Pacific has been growing its dividend at a decent rate, and the payments have been stable despite the short payment history. This is a positive start.

Dividend Growth Potential

The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. Over the past five years, it looks as though Imperial Pacific’s EPS have declined at around 8.0% a year. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company’s dividend.

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. It’s a concern to see that the company paid out such a high percentage of its earnings and cashflow as dividends. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and the dividend history is shorter than we’d like. In this analysis, Imperial Pacific doesn’t shape up too well as a dividend stock. We’d find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend payer.

Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Imperial Pacific management tenure, salary, and performance.

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.