It looks like Sino Land Company Limited (HKG:83) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 3 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 30th of October in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 7th of December.
Sino Land's next dividend payment will be HK$0.41 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of HK$0.55 per share. Calculating the last year's worth of payments shows that Sino Land has a trailing yield of 5.6% on the current share price of HK$9.81. Dividends are a major contributor to investment returns for long term holders, but only if the dividend continues to be paid. We need to see whether the dividend is covered by earnings and if it's growing.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned in profit, then the dividend could be unsustainable. Last year, Sino Land paid out 225% of its profit to shareholders in the form of dividends. This is not sustainable behaviour and requires a closer look on behalf of the purchaser. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. The good news is it paid out just 22% of its free cash flow in the last year.
It's good to see that while Sino Land's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
When earnings decline, dividend companies become much harder to analyse and own safely. If earnings fall far enough, the company could be forced to cut its dividend. Sino Land's earnings have collapsed faster than Wile E Coyote's schemes to trap the Road Runner; down a tremendous 31% a year over the past five years.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, Sino Land has lifted its dividend by approximately 4.2% a year on average. That's intriguing, but the combination of growing dividends despite declining earnings can typically only be achieved by paying out a larger percentage of profits. Sino Land is already paying out 225% of its profits, and with shrinking earnings we think it's unlikely that this dividend will grow quickly in the future.
The Bottom Line
Is Sino Land an attractive dividend stock, or better left on the shelf? It's not a great combination to see a company with earnings in decline and paying out 225% of its profits, which could imply the dividend may be at risk of being cut in the future. Yet cashflow was much stronger, which makes us wonder if there are some large timing issues in Sino Land's cash flows, or perhaps the company has written down some assets aggressively, reducing its income. It's not that we think Sino Land is a bad company, but these characteristics don't generally lead to outstanding dividend performance.
With that in mind though, if the poor dividend characteristics of Sino Land don't faze you, it's worth being mindful of the risks involved with this business. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for Sino Land you should know about.
We wouldn't recommend just buying the first dividend stock you see, though. Here's a list of interesting dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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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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