Today we'll take a closer look at CLS Holdings plc (LON:CLI) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. 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.
In this case, CLS Holdings likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 3.4% dividend yield and four-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying CLS Holdings for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.
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 34% of CLS Holdings' profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. The company paid out 62% of its free cash flow, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash CLS Holdings has available to meet other needs. It's positive to see that CLS Holdings' 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.
Consider getting our latest analysis on CLS Holdings' financial position here.
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. Looking at the data, we can see that CLS Holdings has been paying a dividend for the past four years. The dividend has not fluctuated much, but with a relatively short payment history, we can't be sure this is sustainable across a full market cycle. During the past four-year period, the first annual payment was UK£0.06 in 2017, compared to UK£0.07 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 6.5% a year over that time.
CLS Holdings has been growing its dividend at a decent rate, and the payments have been stable despite the short payment history. This is a positive start.
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. Over the past five years, it looks as though CLS Holdings' EPS have declined at around 14% a year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and CLS Holdings' earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.
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. Above all, we're glad to see that CLS Holdings pays out a low fraction of its earnings and, while it paid a higher percentage of cashflow, this also was within a normal range. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and the dividend history is shorter than we'd like. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than CLS Holdings out there.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. To that end, CLS Holdings has 4 warning signs (and 1 which is a bit concerning) we think 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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