Is True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust (TSE:TNT.UN) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

Today we’ll take a closer look at True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust (TSE:TNT.UN) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong dividend company 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, True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 8.9% dividend yield and six-year payment history. The yield does look pretty interesting. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis
TSX:TNT.UN Historical Dividend Yield, April 18th 2019
TSX:TNT.UN Historical Dividend Yield, April 18th 2019

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. So we need to be form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 81% of True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. It’s paying out most of its earnings, which limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate limited need for further capital within the business, or highlight a commitment to paying a dividend.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Of the levered free cash flow it generated last year, True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust paid out 50% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable.

It’s paying out most of its earnings, although REITs often have different rules governing their distributions, so a higher payout ratio on its own is not unusual.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust has been paying a dividend for the past six years. The dividend has been quite stable over the past six years, which is great to see – although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. Its most recent annual dividend was CA$0.59 per share, effectively flat on its first payment six years ago.

We like that the dividend hasn’t been shrinking. However we’re conscious that the company hasn’t got an overly long track record of dividend payments yet, which makes us wary of relying on its dividend income.

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. Over the past five years, it looks as though True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust’s EPS have declined at around -8.8% a year. If earnings continue to decline, the dividend may come under pressure. Every investor should make an assessment of whether the company is taking steps to stabilise the situation.

We’d also point out that True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust 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.

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. First, we think True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has a relatively short dividend history – shorter than we like, anyway. Ultimately, True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust comes up short on our dividend analysis. It’s not that we think it is a bad company – just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in True North Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust in our latest insider ownership analysis.

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.