Is Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing Co., Ltd. (HKG:1601) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.
Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing has only been paying a dividend for a year or so, so investors might be curious about its 5.0% yield. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.
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. Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing paid out 30% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A medium payout ratio strikes a good balance between paying dividends, and keeping enough back to invest in the business. Plus, there is room to increase the payout ratio over time.
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. This company has been paying a dividend for less than 2 years, which we think is too soon to consider it a reliable dividend stock. Its most recent annual dividend was CN¥0.04 per share.
Modest dividend growth is good to see, especially with the payments being relatively stable. However, the payment history is relatively short and we wouldn't want to rely on this dividend too much.
Dividend Growth Potential
The other half of the dividend investing equation is evaluating whether earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Growing EPS can help maintain or increase the purchasing power of the dividend over the long run. Over the past five years, it looks as though Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing's EPS have declined at around 5.6% a year. 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.
We'd also point out that Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental - it's hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, we like that Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing has a low and conservative payout ratio. Earnings per share are down, and to our mind Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing has not been paying a dividend long enough to demonstrate its resilience across economic cycles. While we're not hugely bearish on it, overall we think there are potentially better dividend stocks than Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing out there.
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 3 warning signs for Zhongguancun Science-Tech Leasing (1 is a bit concerning!) 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 dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
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