Is Progress-Werk Oberkirch AG (FRA:PWO) A Great Dividend Stock?

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Dividend paying stocks like Progress-Werk Oberkirch AG (FRA:PWO) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason – some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it’s important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you’ll find our analysis useful.

In this case, Progress-Werk Oberkirch likely looks attractive to investors, given its 4.3% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

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DB:PWO Historical Dividend Yield, July 15th 2019
DB:PWO Historical Dividend Yield, July 15th 2019

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. Comparing dividend payments to a company’s net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Progress-Werk Oberkirch paid out 59% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Progress-Werk Oberkirch’s cash payout ratio in the last year was 27%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It’s positive to see that Progress-Werk Oberkirch’s dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

Is Progress-Werk Oberkirch’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As Progress-Werk Oberkirch has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Progress-Werk Oberkirch is carrying net debt of 3.26 times its EBITDA, which is getting towards the upper limit of our comfort range on a dividend stock that the investor hopes will endure a wide range of economic circumstances.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Interest cover of 2.84 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Progress-Werk Oberkirch, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well.

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. Progress-Werk Oberkirch has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €0.55 in 2009, compared to €1.10 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7.2% a year over that 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.

It’s good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Progress-Werk Oberkirch might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it’s even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there’s a good chance of bigger dividends in future? In the last five years, Progress-Werk Oberkirch’s earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 15% per annum. 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

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 Progress-Werk Oberkirch has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. While we’re not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Progress-Werk Oberkirch out there.

See if management have their own wealth at stake, by checking insider shareholdings in Progress-Werk Oberkirch stock.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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.