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Dividend paying stocks like National Tyre & Wheel Limited (ASX:NTD) 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.
Some readers mightn’t know much about National Tyre & Wheel’s 9.3% dividend, as it has only been paying distributions for a year or so. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through this below.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company’s net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Looking at the data, we can see that 41% of National Tyre & Wheel’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. With a cash payout ratio of 94%, National Tyre & Wheel’s dividend payments are poorly covered by cash flow. National Tyre & Wheel paid out less in dividends than it reported in profits, but unfortunately it didn’t generate enough free cash flow to cover the dividend. Were it to repeatedly pay dividends that were not well covered by cash flow, this could be a risk to National Tyre & Wheel’s ability to maintain its dividend.
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 has been paying a dividend for less than 2 years, which we think is too soon to consider it a reliable dividend stock. During the past one-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.02 in 2018, compared to AU$0.035 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 77% per year over this time.
The dividend has been growing pretty quickly, which could be enough to get us interested even though the dividend history is relatively short. Further research may be warranted.
Dividend Growth Potential
The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Over the long term, dividends need to grow at or above the rate of inflation, in order to maintain the recipient’s purchasing power. National Tyre & Wheel’s earnings per share are up 103% on last year. It’s good to see earnings per share rising, but one year is too short a period to get excited about. Were this trend to continue, we’d be interested. With high earnings per share growth in recent times and a modest payout ratio, we think this is an attractive combination if earnings can be reinvested to generate further growth. We do note though, one year is too short a time to be drawing strong conclusions about a company’s future prospects.
We’d also point out that National Tyre & Wheel issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental – it’s hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.
When we look at a dividend stock, we need to form a judgement on whether the dividend will grow, if the company is able to maintain it in a wide range of economic circumstances, and if the dividend payout is sustainable. First, we like National Tyre & Wheel’s low dividend payout ratio, although we’re a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we’d like. While we’re not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than National Tyre & Wheel out there.
See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in National Tyre & Wheel stock.
Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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 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.