Today we'll take a closer look at UMP Healthcare Holdings Limited (HKG:722) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.
With a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if UMP Healthcare Holdings is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. 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 UMP Healthcare Holdings 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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. UMP Healthcare Holdings paid out 62% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. UMP Healthcare Holdings' cash payout ratio in the last year was 35%, which suggests dividends were well covered by cash generated by the business. It's positive to see that UMP Healthcare 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.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note UMP Healthcare Holdings' strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
We update our data on UMP Healthcare Holdings every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. UMP Healthcare Holdings has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was HK$0.02 in 2016, compared to HK$0.03 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 11% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 11% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.
It's not great to see that the payment has been cut in the past. We're generally more wary of companies that have cut their dividend before, as they tend to perform worse in an economic downturn.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to see if earnings per share (EPS) are growing. Why take the risk of a dividend getting cut, unless there's a good chance of bigger dividends in future? Earnings have grown at around 3.7% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! 3.7% per annum is not a particularly high rate of growth, which we find curious. If the company is struggling to grow, perhaps that's why it elects to pay out more than half of its earnings to shareholders.
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. First, we think UMP Healthcare Holdings has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is chequered - having cut its dividend at least once in the past. Ultimately, UMP Healthcare Holdings comes up short on our dividend analysis. It's not that we think it is a bad company - just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.
It's important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. As an example, we've identified 4 warning signs for UMP Healthcare Holdings 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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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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