Should You Buy China Life Insurance Company Limited (HKG:2628) For Its Dividend?

Dividends can be underrated but they form a large part of investment returns, playing an important role in compounding returns in the long run. Historically, China Life Insurance Company Limited (HKG:2628) has been paying a dividend to shareholders. Today it yields 2.6%. Does China Life Insurance tick all the boxes of a great dividend stock? Below, I’ll take you through my analysis.

View our latest analysis for China Life Insurance

5 questions I ask before picking a dividend stock

Whenever I am looking at a potential dividend stock investment, I always check these five metrics:

  • Is its annual yield among the top 25% of dividend-paying companies?
  • Does it consistently pay out dividends without missing a payment of significantly cutting payout?
  • Has dividend per share amount increased over the past?
  • Does earnings amply cover its dividend payments?
  • Will it have the ability to keep paying its dividends going forward?
SEHK:2628 Historical Dividend Yield December 6th 18
SEHK:2628 Historical Dividend Yield December 6th 18

How well does China Life Insurance fit our criteria?

The company currently pays out 46% of its earnings as a dividend, according to its trailing twelve-month data, which means that the dividend is covered by earnings. However, going forward, analysts expect 2628’s payout to fall to 36% of its earnings, which leads to a dividend yield of 3.0%. However, EPS should increase to CN¥1.33, meaning that the lower payout ratio does not necessarily implicate a lower dividend payment.

When assessing the forecast sustainability of a dividend it is also worth considering the cash flow of the business. A company with strong cash flow, relative to earnings, can sometimes sustain a high pay out ratio.

If there’s one type of stock you want to be reliable, it’s dividend stocks and their stable income-generating ability. Dividend payments from China Life Insurance have been volatile in the past 10 years, with some years experiencing significant drops of over 25%. These characteristics do not bode well for income investors seeking reliable stream of dividends.

Relative to peers, China Life Insurance has a yield of 2.6%, which is high for Insurance stocks but still below the market’s top dividend payers.

Next Steps:

Taking all the above into account, China Life Insurance is a complicated pick for dividend investors given that there are a couple of positive things about it as well as negative. But if you are not exclusively a dividend investor, the stock could still be an interesting investment opportunity. Given that this is purely a dividend analysis, you should always research extensively before deciding whether or not a stock is an appropriate investment for you. I always recommend analysing the company’s fundamentals and underlying business before making an investment decision. There are three fundamental factors you should further examine:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for 2628’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for 2628’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is 2628 worth today? Even if the stock is a cash cow, it’s not worth an infinite price. The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether 2628 is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Dividend Rockstars: Are there better dividend payers with stronger fundamentals out there? Check out our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.