Is UMS Holdings Berhad (KLSE:UMS) At Risk Of Cutting Its Dividend?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 02, 2020
KLSE:UMS

Is UMS Holdings Berhad (KLSE:UMS) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

With UMS Holdings Berhad yielding 5.8% 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. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on UMS Holdings Berhad!

historic-dividend
KLSE:UMS Historic Dividend October 3rd 2020

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, UMS Holdings Berhad paid out 94% of its profit as dividends. With a payout ratio this high, we'd say its dividend is not well covered by earnings. This may be fine if earnings are growing, but it might not take much of a downturn for the dividend to come under pressure.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. UMS Holdings Berhad's cash payout ratio last year was 21%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. While the dividend was not well covered by profits, at least they were covered by free cash flow. Still, if the company continues paying out such a high percentage of its profits, the dividend could be at risk if business turns sour.

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.

Consider getting our latest analysis on UMS Holdings Berhad's financial position here.

Dividend Volatility

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. The dividend has been cut on at least one occasion historically. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was RM0.05 in 2010, compared to RM0.1 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 7.2% per year over this 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 earnings per share have shrunk at 26% a year over the past five years. A sharp decline in earnings per share is not great from from a dividend perspective, as even conservative payout ratios can come under pressure if earnings fall far enough.

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. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. Earnings per share are down, and UMS Holdings Berhad's dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. Overall, UMS Holdings Berhad falls short in several key areas here. Unless the investor has strong grounds for an alternative conclusion, we find it hard to get interested in a dividend stock with these characteristics.

Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for UMS Holdings Berhad (of which 1 can't be ignored!) you should know about.

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