How Does SpareBank 1 SR-Bank ASA (OB:SRBANK) Stand Up To These Simple Dividend Safety Checks?

Could SpareBank 1 SR-Bank ASA (OB:SRBANK) be an attractive dividend share to own for the long haul? Investors are often drawn to strong companies with the idea of reinvesting the 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.

In this case, SpareBank 1 SR-Bank likely looks attractive to investors, given its 4.5% dividend yield and a payment history of over ten years. We’d guess that plenty of investors have purchased it for the income. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding SpareBank 1 SR-Bank for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.

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OB:SRBANK Historical Dividend Yield, August 12th 2019
OB:SRBANK Historical Dividend Yield, August 12th 2019

Payout ratios

Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. 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. SpareBank 1 SR-Bank paid out 36% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. This is a middling range that strikes a nice balance between paying dividends to shareholders, and retaining enough earnings to invest in future growth. One of the risks is that management reinvests the retained capital poorly instead of paying a higher dividend.

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. SpareBank 1 SR-Bank 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 fallen by at least 20% one or more times over this time. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was kr3.96 in 2009, compared to kr4.50 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 1.3% a year over that time. SpareBank 1 SR-Bank’s dividend payments have fluctuated, so it hasn’t grown 1.3% every year, but the CAGR is a useful rule of thumb for approximating the historical growth.

It’s good to see some dividend growth, but the dividend has been cut at least once, and the size of the cut would eliminate most of the growth, anyway. We’re not that enthused by this.

Dividend Growth Potential

Given that the dividend has been cut in the past, we need to check if earnings are growing and if that might lead to stronger dividends in the future. It’s good to see SpareBank 1 SR-Bank has been growing its earnings per share at 11% a year over the past 5 years. A company paying out less than a quarter of its earnings as dividends, and growing earnings at more than 10% per annum, looks to be right in the cusp of its growth phase. At the right price, we might be interested.

We’d also point out that SpareBank 1 SR-Bank issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Regularly issuing new shares can be detrimental – it’s hard to grow dividends per share when new shares are regularly being created.

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. Firstly, we like that SpareBank 1 SR-Bank has a low and conservative payout ratio. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to generate earnings per share growth, and cut its dividend at least once in the past. SpareBank 1 SR-Bank has a credible record on several fronts, but falls slightly short of our standards for a dividend stock.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 7 SpareBank 1 SR-Bank analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 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.