Zooming in on TSE:LUC’s 6.1% Dividend Yield

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Is Lucara Diamond Corp. (TSE:LUC) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

With a five-year payment history and a 6.1% yield, many investors probably find Lucara Diamond intriguing. It sure looks interesting on these metrics – but there’s always more to the story . Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Lucara Diamond for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Lucara Diamond!

TSX:LUC Historical Dividend Yield, July 5th 2019
TSX:LUC Historical Dividend Yield, July 5th 2019

Payout ratios

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. Lucara Diamond paid out 111% 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.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Lucara Diamond paid out 505% of its free cash flow last year, suggesting the dividend is poorly covered by cash flow. Paying out such a high percentage of cash flow suggests that the dividend was funded from either cash at bank or by borrowing, neither of which is desirable over the long term. Cash is slightly more important than profit from a dividend perspective, but given Lucara Diamond’s payments were not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we are concerned about the sustainability of this dividend.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. Lucara Diamond has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.035 in 2014, compared to US$0.074 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 16% a year over that time.

Lucara Diamond has grown distributions at a rapid rate despite cutting the dividend at least once in the past. Companies that cut once often cut again, but it might be worth considering if the business has turned a corner.

Dividend Growth Potential

Examining whether the dividend is affordable and stable is important. However, it’s also important to assess if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. It’s not great to see that Lucara Diamond’s have fallen at approximately 18% over the past five years. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company’s dividend.

Conclusion

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. It’s a concern to see that the company paid out such a high percentage of its earnings and cashflow as dividends. Earnings per share are down, and Lucara Diamond’s dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. Using these criteria, Lucara Diamond looks quite suboptimal from a dividend investment perspective.

Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. See if the 6 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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 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. Thank you for reading.