Dividend paying stocks like Ircon International Limited (NSE:IRCON) 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. 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.
Ircon International pays a 5.6% dividend yield, and has been paying dividends for the past two years. A 5.6% yield does look good. Could the short payment history hint at future dividend growth? When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Ircon International paid out 26% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a medium payout level that leaves enough capital in the business to fund opportunities that might arise, while also rewarding shareholders. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Ircon International's cash payout ratio last year was 23%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
With a strong net cash balance, Ircon International investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
We update our data on Ircon International every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a few years now, but we'd like to see more evidence of consistency over a longer period. During the past two-year period, the first annual payment was ₹4.3 in 2019, compared to ₹4.8 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 5.2% a year over that time.
Ircon International has been growing its dividend at a decent rate, and the payments have been stable despite the short payment history. This is a positive start.
Dividend Growth Potential
Dividend payments have been consistent over the past few years, but we should always check if earnings per share (EPS) are growing, as this will help maintain the purchasing power of the dividend. Ircon International's EPS are effectively flat over the past five years. Flat earnings per share are acceptable for a time, but over the long term, the purchasing power of the company's dividends could be eroded by inflation. A payout ratio below 50% leaves ample room to reinvest in the business, and provides finanical flexibility. However, earnings per share are unfortunately not growing much. Might this suggest that the company should pay a higher dividend instead?
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. It's great to see that Ircon International is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any earnings growth, and the company's dividend history is shorter than the 10 years we ideally like to see before making a strong judgement. Ircon International has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. For example, we've picked out 1 warning sign for Ircon International that investors should know about before committing capital to this stock.
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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