Is Solution Dynamics Limited (NZSE:SDL) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 08, 2021
NZSE:SDL
Source: Shutterstock

Is Solution Dynamics Limited (NZSE:SDL) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it's important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

In this case, Solution Dynamics likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 4.4% dividend yield and six-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we'll go through this below.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
NZSE:SDL Historic Dividend May 8th 2021

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. Looking at the data, we can see that 67% of Solution Dynamics' profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. 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.

We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. Solution Dynamics' cash payout ratio last year was 21%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It's positive to see that Solution Dynamics' dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

With a strong net cash balance, Solution Dynamics investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Solution Dynamics' latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Solution Dynamics has been paying a dividend for the past six years. Although it has been paying a dividend for several years now, the dividend has been cut at least once, and we're cautious about the consistency of its dividend across a full economic cycle. During the past six-year period, the first annual payment was NZ$0.01 in 2015, compared to NZ$0.1 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 45% a year over that time. The growth in dividends has not been linear, but the CAGR is a decent approximation of the rate of change over this time frame.

So, its dividends have grown at a rapid rate over this time, but payments have been cut in the past. The stock may still be worth considering as part of a diversified dividend portfolio.

Dividend Growth Potential

With a relatively unstable dividend, it's even more important to evaluate if earnings per share (EPS) are growing - it's not worth taking the risk on a dividend getting cut, unless you might be rewarded with larger dividends in future. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Solution Dynamics has grown its earnings per share at 26% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share are sharply up, but we wonder if paying out more than half its earnings (leaving less for reinvestment) is an implicit signal that Solution Dynamics' growth will be slower in the future.

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. Solution Dynamics' payout ratios are within a normal range for the average corporation, and we like that its cashflow was stronger than reported profits. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Solution Dynamics has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.

Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. At the same time, there are other factors our readers should be conscious of before pouring capital into a stock. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 2 warning signs for Solution Dynamics that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.

Looking for more high-yielding dividend ideas? Try our curated list of dividend stocks with a yield above 3%.

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