Is Autosports Group Limited (ASX:ASG) a good dividend stock? How would you know? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.
Autosports Group yields a solid 6.3%, although it has only been paying for two years. A high yield probably looks enticing, but investors are likely wondering about the short payment history. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Autosports Group for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.
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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. So we need to be form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Autosports Group paid out 71% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.
We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. The company paid out 83% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is adequate, but reduces the wriggle room in the event of a downturn.
Is Autosports Group’s Balance Sheet Risky?
As Autosports Group has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick way to check a company’s financial situation uses these two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures a company’s total debt load relative to its earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the company’s ability to pay the interest on its debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of more than 5x EBITDA, Autosports Group could be described as a highly leveraged company. While some companies can handle this level of leverage, we’d be concerned about the dividend sustainability if there was any risk of an earnings downturn.
We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company’s net interest expense. Interest cover of less than 5x its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Autosports Group, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them. We’re generally reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Autosports Group’s financial position here.
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. This company’s dividend has been unstable, and with a relatively short history, we think it’s a little soon to draw strong conclusions about its long term dividend potential. During the past two-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.046 in 2017, compared to AU$0.068 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 22% a year over that time. Autosports Group’s dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn’t grown 22% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.
It’s not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We’re generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.
Dividend Growth Potential
Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. EPS have fallen -18% over the last 12 months. While this is not ideal, one year is a short time in business, and we wouldn’t want to get too hung up on this. Any one year of performance can be misleading for a variety of reasons, so we wouldn’t like to form any strong conclusions based on these numbers alone.
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. First, we think Autosports Group is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Earnings per share are down, and Autosports Group’s dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. With this information in mind, we think Autosports Group may not be an ideal dividend stock.
Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting for the company.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.