Is The Bank of Nova Scotia (TSE:BNS) A Good Fit For Your Dividend Portfolio?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 11, 2020
TSX:BNS
Source: Shutterstock

Is The Bank of Nova Scotia (TSE:BNS) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

With Bank of Nova Scotia yielding 6.2% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 1.3% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Bank of Nova Scotia for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Bank of Nova Scotia!

TSX:BNS Historical Dividend Yield, March 12th 2020
TSX:BNS Historical Dividend Yield, March 12th 2020

Payout ratios

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. 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 52% of Bank of Nova Scotia's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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 update our data on Bank of Nova Scotia every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

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. Bank of Nova Scotia has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CA$1.96 in 2010, compared to CA$3.60 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.3% a year over that time.

Dividends have grown at a reasonable rate over this period, and without any major cuts in the payment over time, we think this is an attractive combination.

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. Bank of Nova Scotia has grown its earnings per share at 3.8% per annum over the past five years. 3.8% per annum is not a particularly high rate of growth, which we find curious. When a business is not growing, it often makes more sense to pay higher dividends to shareholders rather than retain the cash with no way to utilise it.

Conclusion

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. Bank of Nova Scotia's payout ratio is within normal bounds. Earnings growth has been limited, but we like that the dividend payments have been fairly consistent. In summary, we're unenthused by Bank of Nova Scotia as a dividend stock. It's not that we think it is a bad company; it simply falls short of our criteria in some key areas.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. For instance, we've picked out 1 warning sign for Bank of Nova Scotia that investors should take into consideration.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.

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