Today we'll take a closer look at UMS Holdings Berhad (KLSE:UMS) 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. 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.
A high yield and a long history of paying dividends is an appealing combination for UMS Holdings Berhad. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding UMS Holdings Berhad for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.
Dividends are typically paid from company earnings. If a company pays more in dividends than it earned, 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. In the last year, UMS Holdings Berhad paid out 59% of its profit as dividends. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. UMS Holdings Berhad paid out 79% of its cash flow last year. This may be sustainable but it does not leave much of a buffer for unexpected circumstances. 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, UMS Holdings Berhad investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. UMS Holdings Berhad has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having been cut one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was RM0.05 in 2010, compared to RM0.10 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7.2% a year over that time. UMS Holdings Berhad's dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn't grown 7.2% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.
It's good to see the dividend growing at a decent rate, but the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. UMS Holdings Berhad might have put its house in order since then, but we remain cautious.
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? UMS Holdings Berhad's EPS have fallen by approximately 19% per year during the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and UMS Holdings Berhad's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that UMS Holdings Berhad's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. First, we think UMS Holdings Berhad is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. Earnings per share have been falling, and the company has cut its dividend at least once in the past. From a dividend perspective, this is a cause for concern. In summary, UMS Holdings Berhad has a number of shortcomings that we'd find it hard to get past. Things could change, but we think there are likely more attractive alternatives out there.
Now, if you want to look closer, it would be worth checking out our free research on UMS Holdings Berhad management tenure, salary, and performance.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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