The board of SSE plc (LON:SSE) has announced that it will be increasing its dividend on the 22nd of September to UK£0.60. This makes the dividend yield 4.9%, which is above the industry average.
SSE's Dividend Is Well Covered By Earnings
We like to see robust dividend yields, but that doesn't matter if the payment isn't sustainable. Prior to this announcement, SSE's dividend was only 35% of earnings, however it was paying out 530% of free cash flows. A cash payout ratio this high could put the dividend under pressure and force the company to reduce it in the future if it were to run into tough times.
Over the next year, EPS is forecast to fall by 45.6%. If the dividend continues along the path it has been on recently, we estimate the payout ratio could be 64%, which is comfortable for the company to continue in the future.
The company has a long dividend track record, but it doesn't look great with cuts in the past. The dividend has gone from UK£0.80 in 2012 to the most recent annual payment of UK£0.86. Dividend payments have grown at less than 1% a year over this period. Modest growth in the dividend is good to see, but we think this is offset by historical cuts to the payments. It is hard to live on a dividend income if the company's earnings are not consistent.
The Dividend Has Growth Potential
Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. We are encouraged to see that SSE has grown earnings per share at 8.7% per year over the past five years. A low payout ratio and decent growth suggests that the company is reinvesting well, and it also has plenty of room to increase the dividend over time.
In summary, while it's always good to see the dividend being raised, we don't think SSE's payments are rock solid. While the low payout ratio is redeeming feature, this is offset by the minimal cash to cover the payments. We don't think SSE is a great stock to add to your portfolio if income is your focus.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. For example, we've identified 4 warning signs for SSE (2 are significant!) that you should be aware of before investing. If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of high yield dividend stocks.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.