Is AVEVA Group plc (LON:AVV) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
Some readers mightn't know much about AVEVA Group's 1.2% dividend, as it has only been paying distributions for the last three years. A low dividend might not be a bad thing, if the company is reinvesting heavily and growing its sales and profits. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, 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. AVEVA Group paid out 228% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. The company paid out 72% of its free cash flow, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash AVEVA Group has available to meet other needs. It's good to see that while AVEVA Group's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we'd view this as a warning sign. Very few companies are able to sustainably pay dividends larger than their reported earnings.
With a strong net cash balance, AVEVA Group investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of AVEVA Group's latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a few years now, but we'd like to see more evidence of consistency over a longer period. During the past three-year period, the first annual payment was UK£0.3 in 2018, compared to UK£0.4 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 18% per year over this time.
AVEVA Group has been growing its dividend quite rapidly, which is exciting. However, the short payment history makes us question whether this performance will persist across a full market cycle.
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. AVEVA Group's EPS have fallen by approximately 18% per year during the past three years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and AVEVA Group's 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. We're not keen on the fact that AVEVA Group paid out such a high percentage of its income, although its cashflow is in better shape. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has a relatively short dividend history - shorter than we like, anyway. Using these criteria, AVEVA Group looks quite suboptimal from a dividend investment perspective.
Companies possessing a stable dividend policy will likely enjoy greater investor interest than those suffering from a more inconsistent approach. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. Just as an example, we've come accross 4 warning signs for AVEVA Group you should be aware of, and 1 of them shouldn't be ignored.
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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