Could Changmao Biochemical Engineering Company Limited (HKG:954) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the dividends. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
With Changmao Biochemical Engineering yielding 8.8% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. Looking at the data, we can see that 94% of Changmao Biochemical Engineering's profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is quite a high payout ratio that suggests the dividend is not well covered by earnings.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. The company paid out 68% of its free cash flow, which is not bad per se, but does start to limit the amount of cash Changmao Biochemical Engineering has available to meet other needs. While the dividend was not well covered by profits, at least they were covered by free cash flow. Even so, if the company were to continue paying out almost all of its profits, we'd be concerned about whether the dividend is sustainable in a downturn.
With a strong net cash balance, Changmao Biochemical Engineering investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of Changmao Biochemical Engineering's dividend payments. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was CN¥0.04 in 2011, compared to CN¥0.06 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 2.5% per year over this time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.
It's good to see some dividend growth, but the dividend has been cut at least once, and the size of the cut would eliminate most of the growth, anyway. We're not that enthused by this.
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? It's not great to see that Changmao Biochemical Engineering's have fallen at approximately 2.5% 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.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that Changmao Biochemical Engineering's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're not keen on the fact that Changmao Biochemical Engineering paid out such a high percentage of its income, although its cashflow is in better shape. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In this analysis, Changmao Biochemical Engineering doesn't shape up too well as a dividend stock. We'd find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.
It's important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 4 warning signs for Changmao Biochemical Engineering that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.
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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