Eurofins Scientific SE (EPA:ERF) Has Got What It Takes To Be An Attractive Dividend Stock

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 03, 2021
ENXTPA:ERF
Source: Shutterstock

Dividend paying stocks like Eurofins Scientific SE (EPA:ERF) 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. 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 slim 0.9% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, Eurofins Scientific could have potential. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Eurofins Scientific for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
ENXTPA:ERF Historic Dividend March 4th 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. 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 25% of Eurofins Scientific's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Besides, if reinvestment opportunities dry up, the company has room to increase the dividend.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Eurofins Scientific's cash payout ratio last year was 4.2%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It's positive to see that Eurofins Scientific'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.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Eurofins Scientific'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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Eurofins Scientific's dividend payments. The dividend has been stable over the past 10 years, which is great. We think this could suggest some resilience to the business and its dividends. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was €0.02 in 2011, compared to €0.7 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 42% per year over this time.

It's rare to find a company that has grown its dividends rapidly over 10 years and not had any notable cuts, but Eurofins Scientific has done it, which we really like.

Dividend Growth Potential

Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Eurofins Scientific has grown its earnings per share at 49% per annum over the past five 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.

We'd also point out that Eurofins Scientific issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental - it's hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

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 like that the company's dividend payments appear well covered, although the retained capital also needs to be effectively reinvested. Next, growing earnings per share and steady dividend payments is a great combination. Overall, we think there are a lot of positives to Eurofins Scientific from a dividend perspective.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Eurofins Scientific (of which 1 is a bit unpleasant!) you should know about.

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