Today we’ll take a closer look at Bank of Greece (ATH:TELL) 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. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.
In this case, Bank of Greece likely looks attractive to investors, given its 4.8% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. We’d guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. 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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company’s net income after tax. Bank of Greece paid out 2.0% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.
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. Bank of Greece has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. The dividend has been cut by more than 20% on at least one occasion historically. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was €2.40 in 2009, compared to €0.67 last year. The dividend has fallen 72% over that period.
A shrinking dividend over a ten-year period is not ideal, and we’d be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it’s even more important to see if EPS are growing. It’s not great to see that Bank of Greece’s have fallen at approximately 4.6% over the past five years. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company’s dividend.
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. Firstly, we like that Bank of Greece has a low and conservative payout ratio. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. In summary, we’re unenthused by Bank of Greece as a dividend stock. It’s not that we think it is a bad company; it simply falls short of our criteria in some key areas.
Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on Bank of Greece management tenure, salary, and performance.
We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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. Thank you for reading.