Is Cencosud S.A. (SNSE:CENCOSUD) A Risky Dividend Stock?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 03, 2021
SNSE:CENCOSUD
Source: Shutterstock

Today we'll take a closer look at Cencosud S.A. (SNSE:CENCOSUD) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.

A 2.2% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests Cencosud has some staying power. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Cencosud for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
SNSE:CENCOSUD Historic Dividend March 3rd 2021

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company's net income after tax. Cencosud paid out 398% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Cencosud's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. Cencosud has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was CL$21.4 in 2011, compared to CL$32.0 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 4.1% per year over this time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.

Modest growth in the dividend is good to see, but we think this is offset by historical cuts to the payments. It is hard to live on a dividend income if the company's earnings are not consistent.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. Cencosud's EPS have fallen by approximately 32% per year during the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Cencosud's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

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. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio. Earnings per share are down, and Cencosud's dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. To conclude, we've spotted a couple of potential concerns with Cencosud that may make it less than ideal candidate for dividend investors.

Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. For example, we've identified 3 warning signs for Cencosud (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) that you should be aware of before investing.

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