Readers hoping to buy Titon Holdings Plc (LON:TON) for its dividend will need to make their move shortly, as the stock is about to trade ex-dividend. This means that investors who purchase shares on or after the 4th of February will not receive the dividend, which will be paid on the 12th of March.
Titon Holdings's next dividend payment will be UK£0.02 per share, on the back of last year when the company paid a total of UK£0.04 to shareholders. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Titon Holdings stock has a trailing yield of around 3.6% on the current share price of £1.1. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are usually paid out of company profits, so if a company pays out more than it earned then its dividend is usually at greater risk of being cut. An unusually high payout ratio of 382% of its profit suggests something is happening other than the usual distribution of profits to shareholders. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. It paid out 15% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservatively low.
It's good to see that while Titon Holdings's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies with falling earnings are riskier for dividend shareholders. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. Titon Holdings's earnings per share have plummeted approximately 47% a year over the previous five years.
Many investors will assess a company's dividend performance by evaluating how much the dividend payments have changed over time. Titon Holdings has delivered an average of 7.2% per year annual increase in its dividend, based on the past 10 years of dividend payments. The only way to pay higher dividends when earnings are shrinking is either to pay out a larger percentage of profits, spend cash from the balance sheet, or borrow the money. Titon Holdings is already paying out a high percentage of its income, so without earnings growth, we're doubtful of whether this dividend will grow much in the future.
To Sum It Up
Has Titon Holdings got what it takes to maintain its dividend payments? It's never great to see earnings per share declining, especially when a company is paying out 382% of its profit as dividends, which we feel is uncomfortably high. However, the cash payout ratio was much lower - good news from a dividend perspective - which makes us wonder why there is such a mis-match between income and cashflow. It's not the most attractive proposition from a dividend perspective, and we'd probably give this one a miss for now.
Having said that, if you're looking at this stock without much concern for the dividend, you should still be familiar of the risks involved with Titon Holdings. For example, we've found 4 warning signs for Titon Holdings that we recommend you consider before investing in the business.
If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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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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