Is Klépierre SA (EPA:LI) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

November 19, 2019
  •  Updated
October 05, 2022
ENXTPA:LI
Source: Shutterstock

Is Klépierre SA (EPA:LI) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

One way to look into the risks is to look at a snapshot of Klépierre's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

With Klépierre yielding 6.3% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 2.3% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Klépierre for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

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ENXTPA:LI Historical Dividend Yield, November 20th 2019
ENXTPA:LI Historical Dividend Yield, November 20th 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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Klépierre paid out 30% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. 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. Klépierre's cash payout ratio in the last year was 30%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It's positive to see that Klépierre'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.

REITs like Klépierre often have different rules governing their distributions, so a higher payout ratio on its own is not unusual.

Is Klépierre's Balance Sheet Risky?

As Klépierre 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 is a measure of a company's total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments. Essentially we check that a) the company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. With net debt of 8.73 times its EBITDA, Klépierre could be described as a highly leveraged company. While some companies can handle this level of leverage, we'd be concerned about the dividend sustainability if there was any risk of an earnings downturn.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company's net interest expense. Klépierre has EBIT of 7.95 times its interest expense, which we think is adequate. Adequate interest cover may make the debt look safe, relative to companies with a lower interest cover ratio. However with such a large mountain of debt overall, we're cautious of what could happen if interest rates rise. That said, Klépierre is in the real estate business, which is typically able to sustain much higher levels of debt, relative to other industries.

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Klépierre's dividend payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €1.25 in 2009, compared to €2.10 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 5.3% a year over that time.

Companies like this, growing their dividend at a decent rate, can be very valuable over the long term, if the rate of growth can be maintained.

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. It's good to see Klépierre has been growing its earnings per share at 37% a year over the past five years. With high earnings per share growth in recent times and a modest payout ratio, we think this is an attractive combination if earnings can be reinvested to generate further growth.

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. It's great to see that Klépierre is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. Next, growing earnings per share and steady dividend payments is a great combination. Overall, we think there are a lot of positives to Klépierre from a dividend perspective.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 9 Klépierre analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.

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