Read This Before Buying Leone Film Group S.p.A. (BIT:LFG) For Its Dividend

Today we’ll take a closer look at Leone Film Group S.p.A. (BIT:LFG) from a dividend investor’s perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. 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.

So you may wish to consider our analysis of Leone Film Group’s financial health, here.

Investors might not know much about Leone Film Group’s dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last six years and offers a 1.9% yield. A low yield is generally a turn-off, but if the prospects for earnings growth were strong, investors might be pleasantly surprised by the long-term results. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

BIT:LFG Historical Dividend Yield, October 23rd 2019
BIT:LFG Historical Dividend Yield, October 23rd 2019

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, then the dividend might become unsustainable – hardly an ideal situation. 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. Leone Film Group paid out 21% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. We’d say its dividends are thoroughly covered by earnings.

Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Unfortunately, while Leone Film Group pays a dividend, it also reported negative free cash flow last year. While there may be a good reason for this, it’s not ideal from a dividend perspective.

Is Leone Film Group’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As Leone Film Group has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 79.65 times, Leone Film Group is very highly levered. While this debt might be serviceable, we would still say it carries substantial risk for the investor who hopes to live on the dividend.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. With EBIT of 2.52 times its interest expense, Leone Film Group’s interest cover is starting to look a bit thin. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them, and we’re reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.

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. Leone Film Group has been paying a dividend for the past six years. The company has been paying a stable dividend for a while now, which is great. However we’d prefer to see consistency for a few more years before giving it our full seal of approval. Its most recent annual dividend was €0.09 per share, effectively flat on its first payment six years ago.

It’s good to see at least some dividend growth. Yet with a relatively short dividend paying history, we wouldn’t want to depend on this dividend too heavily.

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. It’s not great to see that Leone Film Group’s have fallen at approximately 4.0% over the past five years. A modest decline in earnings per share is not great to see, but it doesn’t automatically make a dividend unsustainable. Still, we’d vastly prefer to see EPS growth when researching dividend stocks.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Leone Film Group’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. Firstly, the company has a conservative payout ratio, although we’d note that its cashflow in the past year was substantially lower than its reported profit. Earnings per share are down, and to our mind Leone Film Group has not been paying a dividend long enough to demonstrate its resilience across economic cycles. In summary, Leone Film Group has a number of shortcomings that we’d find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are a number of better ideas out there.

Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in Leone Film Group in our latest insider ownership analysis.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.