What To Know Before Buying Rogers Communications Inc. (TSE:RCI.B) For Its Dividend

Could Rogers Communications Inc. (TSE:RCI.B) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to a company for its dividend. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it’s important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

In this case, Rogers Communications likely looks attractive to investors, given its 3.0% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It’s likely that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insight when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.

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TSX:RCI.B Historical Dividend Yield, April 24th 2019
TSX:RCI.B Historical Dividend Yield, April 24th 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 49% of Rogers Communications’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Rogers Communications paid out 64% of its free cash flow last year, which is acceptable, but is starting to limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested into the business.

Is Rogers Communications’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As Rogers Communications has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks.

A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA is a measure of a company’s total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments on debt. Essentially we check that a) a company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Rogers Communications has net debt of 2.98 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA). Using debt can accelerate business growth, but also increases the risks.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company’s net interest expense. Net interest cover of 5.60 times its interest expense appears reasonable for Rogers Communications, although we’re conscious that even high interest cover doesn’t make a company bulletproof.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Rogers Communications’s financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Rogers Communications’s dividend payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was CA$1.16 in 2009, compared to CA$2.00 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 5.6% per year over this time.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively stable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend’s purchasing power over the long term. Earnings have grown at around 4.0% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! A payout ratio below 50% leaves ample room to reinvest in the business, and provides finanical flexibility. However, earnings per share are unfortunately not growing much. Might this suggest that the company should pay a higher dividend instead?

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Rogers Communications’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that Rogers Communications pays out a low fraction of earnings. It pays out a higher percentage of its cashflow, although this is within acceptable bounds. Second, earnings growth has been mediocre, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. Rogers Communications performs well under this analysis, although it falls slightly short in some key areas. At the right valuation though, it may still be an interesting prospect.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 17 analysts we track are forecasting for Rogers Communications for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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