Is CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea (FRA:COP) An Attractive Dividend Stock?

Today we’ll take a closer look at CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea (FRA:COP) 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. 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.

Investors might not know much about CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea’s dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last nine years and offers a 0.9% yield. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 1.6% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

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DB:COP Historical Dividend Yield, August 12th 2019
DB:COP Historical Dividend Yield, August 12th 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. So we need to 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 30% of CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea’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. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea’s cash payout ratio last year was 20%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It’s encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don’t drop precipitously.

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. The first recorded dividend for CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea, in the last decade, was nine years ago. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we’re conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was €0.25 in 2010, compared to €0.50 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8.0% a year over that time.

The dividend has been growing at a reasonable rate, which we like. We’re conscious though that one of the best ways to detect a multi-decade consistent dividend-payer, is to watch a company pay dividends for 20 years – a distinction CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea has not achieved yet.

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. It’s good to see CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea has been growing its earnings per share at 29% a year over the past 5 years. Earnings per share have rocketed in recent times, and we like that the company is retaining more than half of its earnings to reinvest. However, always remember that very few companies can grow at double digit rates forever.

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. Firstly, we like that CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea has low and conservative payout ratios. Second, the company has not been able to generate earnings growth, and its history of dividend payments too short for us to thoroughly evaluate the dividend’s consistency across an economic cycle. All things considered, CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea looks like a strong prospect. At the right valuation, it could be something special.

Companies that are growing earnings tend to be the best dividend stocks over the long term. See what the 8 analysts we track are forecasting for CompuGroup Medical Societas Europaea for free with public analyst estimates for the company.

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.