Tread With Caution Around UMS Holdings Berhad's (KLSE:UMS) 3.3% Dividend Yield

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 01, 2021
KLSE:UMS

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. If you are hoping to live on your dividends, it's important to be more stringent with your investments than the average punter. Regular readers know we like to apply the same approach to each dividend stock, and we hope you'll find our analysis useful.

In this case, UMS Holdings Berhad likely looks attractive to investors, given its 3.3% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying UMS Holdings Berhad for its dividend - read on to learn more.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
KLSE:UMS Historic Dividend January 1st 2021

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. UMS Holdings Berhad paid out 179% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.

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 a conservative 43% of its free cash flow as dividends last year. It's disappointing to see that the dividend was not covered by profits, but cash is more important from a dividend sustainability perspective, and UMS Holdings Berhad fortunately did generate enough cash to fund its dividend. If executives were to continue paying more in dividends than the company reported in profits, we'd view this as a warning sign. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note UMS Holdings Berhad's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

We update our data on UMS Holdings Berhad every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

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. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of UMS Holdings Berhad's dividend payments. This dividend has been unstable, which we define as having been cut one or more times over this time. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was RM0.05 in 2011, compared to RM0.06 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.9% a year over that time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 1.9% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.

We're glad to see the dividend has risen, but with a limited rate of growth and fluctuations in the payments, we don't think this is an attractive combination.

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 39% 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.

Conclusion

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. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio, although at least the dividend was covered by free cash flow. 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. 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.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. For example, we've identified 4 warning signs for UMS Holdings Berhad (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 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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