Dividend paying stocks like MotorCycle Holdings Limited (ASX:MTO) 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. 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.
With a four-year payment history and a 8.2% yield, many investors probably find MotorCycle Holdings intriguing. 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.
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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. MotorCycle Holdings paid out 189% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of MotorCycle Holdings' latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. MotorCycle Holdings has been paying a dividend for the past four years. 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 four-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.1 in 2017, compared to AU$0.2 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 7.5% per year over this time. MotorCycle Holdings' dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 7.5% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.
It's good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. MotorCycle Holdings might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.
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. Over the past five years, it looks as though MotorCycle Holdings' EPS have declined at around 19% a year. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.
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. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. With this information in mind, we think MotorCycle Holdings may not be an ideal dividend stock.
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. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for MotorCycle Holdings (of which 1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) you should know about.
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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