Stock Analysis

How Does Deutsche Wohnen SE (ETR:DWNI) Fare As A Dividend Stock?

XTRA:DWNI
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Is Deutsche Wohnen SE (ETR:DWNI) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

Investors might not know much about Deutsche Wohnen's dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last nine years and offers a 2.2% yield. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. The company also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 2.2% of the company's market capitalisation at the time. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Deutsche Wohnen!

historic-dividend
XTRA:DWNI Historic Dividend July 26th 2020

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 21% of Deutsche Wohnen's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. With a low payout ratio, it looks like the dividend is comprehensively covered by earnings.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Deutsche Wohnen paid out 50% of its cash flow as dividends last year, which is within a reasonable range for the average corporation. It's positive to see that Deutsche Wohnen'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 Deutsche Wohnen's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Deutsche Wohnen 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 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). With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 13.00 times, Deutsche Wohnen is very highly levered. While this debt might be serviceable, we would still say it carries substantial risk for the investor who hopes to live on the dividend.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. With EBIT of 4.23 times its interest expense, Deutsche Wohnen's interest cover is starting to look a bit thin. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them, and we're reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Deutsche Wohnen'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. The first recorded dividend for Deutsche Wohnen, in the last decade, was nine years ago. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a while now, which is great. However we'd prefer to see consistency for a few more years before giving it our full seal of approval. During the past nine-year period, the first annual payment was €0.2 in 2011, compared to €0.9 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 18% per year over this time.

The dividend has been growing pretty quickly, which could be enough to get us interested even though the dividend history is relatively short. Further research may be warranted.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, 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. Deutsche Wohnen has grown its earnings per share at 8.1% per annum over the past five years. A low payout ratio and strong historical earnings growth suggests Deutsche Wohnen has been effectively reinvesting in its business. We think this generally bodes well for its dividend prospects.

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. Above all, we're glad to see that Deutsche Wohnen pays out a low fraction of its earnings and, while it paid a higher percentage of cashflow, this also was within a normal range. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. Deutsche Wohnen has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.

It's important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for Deutsche Wohnen (of which 1 is significant!) you should know about.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 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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