Would ORBIS AG (ETR:OBS) Be Valuable To Income Investors?

Today we’ll take a closer look at ORBIS AG (ETR:OBS) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong dividend company and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.

Investors might not know much about ORBIS’s dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last nine years and offers a 2.5% yield. A low yield is generally a turn-off, but if the prospects for earnings growth were strong, investors might be pleasantly surprised by the long-term results. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insight when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis
XTRA:OBS Historical Dividend Yield, April 25th 2019
XTRA:OBS Historical Dividend Yield, April 25th 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. ORBIS paid out 63% 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.

We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. ORBIS’s cash payout ratio in the last year was 48%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business.

With a strong net cash balance, ORBIS investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

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

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. The first recorded dividend for ORBIS, 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 €0.02 in 2010, compared to €0.16 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 26% 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

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. ORBIS has grown its earnings per share at 6.8% per annum over the past five years. The rate at which earnings have grown is quite decent, and by paying out more than half of its earnings as dividends, the company is striking a reasonable balance between reinvestment and returns to shareholders.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. First, we think ORBIS has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is shorter than we’d like. While we’re not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than ORBIS out there.

You can also discover whether shareholders are aligned with insider interests by checking our visualisation of insider shareholdings and trades in ORBIS stock.

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