Today we'll take a closer look at Duxton Water Limited (ASX:D2O) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
In this case, Duxton Water likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 4.4% dividend yield and four-year payment history. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 0.7% of its market capitalisation. 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 typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Duxton Water paid out 2.7% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. With a low payout ratio, it looks like the dividend is comprehensively covered by earnings.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Unfortunately, while Duxton Water 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.
We update our data on Duxton Water every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. Duxton Water has been paying a dividend for the past four years. The dividend has not fluctuated much, but with a relatively short payment history, we can't be sure this is sustainable across a full market cycle. During the past four-year period, the first annual payment was AU$0.02 in 2017, compared to AU$0.06 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 27% a year over that time.
We're not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.
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. It's good to see Duxton Water has been growing its earnings per share at 32% a year over the past three years. The company is only paying out a fraction of its earnings as dividends, and in the past been able to use the retained earnings to grow its profits rapidly - an ideal combination.
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 like Duxton Water's low dividend payout ratio, although we're a bit concerned that it paid out a substantially higher percentage of its free cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, although its dividend history is not as long as we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Duxton Water out there.
It's important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. For example, we've identified 4 warning signs for Duxton Water (2 are significant!) that you should be aware of before investing.
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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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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