Stock Analysis

Factors Income Investors Should Consider Before Adding Melbourne Enterprises Limited (HKG:158) To Their Portfolio

SEHK:158
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Dividend paying stocks like Melbourne Enterprises Limited (HKG:158) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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.

With Melbourne Enterprises yielding 3.2% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. We'd guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying Melbourne Enterprises for its dividend, and we'll go through these below.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Melbourne Enterprises!

historic-dividend
SEHK:158 Historic Dividend March 12th 2021

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. 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. Although Melbourne Enterprises pays a dividend, it was loss-making during the past year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Melbourne Enterprises paid out 109% of its free cash flow last year, which we think is concerning if cash flows do not improve.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Melbourne Enterprises' strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Melbourne Enterprises' latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. Melbourne Enterprises has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was HK$3.8 in 2011, compared to HK$5.1 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 3.0% per year over this time.

Dividends have grown relatively slowly, which is not great, but some investors may value the relative consistency of the dividend.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. Over the past five years, it looks as though Melbourne Enterprises' EPS have declined at around 27% a year. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Melbourne Enterprises' earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

Conclusion

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. Melbourne Enterprises' dividend is not well covered by free cash flow, plus it paid a dividend while being unprofitable. Moreover, earnings have been shrinking. While the dividends have been fairly steady, we'd wonder for how much longer this will be sustainable if earnings continue to decline. In this analysis, Melbourne Enterprises 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. Just as an example, we've come accross 2 warning signs for Melbourne Enterprises you should be aware of, and 1 of them makes us a bit uncomfortable.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield 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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