Today we’ll take a closer look at AB Fagerhult (STO:FAG) 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. Unfortunately, it’s common for investors to be enticed in by the seemingly attractive yield, and lose money when the company has to cut its dividend payments.
With AB Fagerhult yielding 3.5% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. Some simple analysis can offer a lot of insights when buying a company for its dividend, and we’ll go through this 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. So we need to form a view on if a company’s dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. Looking at the data, we can see that 51% of AB Fagerhult’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. This is a healthy payout ratio, and while it does limit the amount of earnings that can be reinvested in the business, there is also some room to lift the payout ratio over time.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Of the free cash flow it generated last year, AB Fagerhult paid out 36% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable. 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.
Is AB Fagerhult’s Balance Sheet Risky?
As AB Fagerhult has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks. A quick check of its financial situation can be done with two ratios: net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). With net debt of 2.95 times its EBITDA, AB Fagerhult has a noticeable amount of debt, although if business stays steady, this may not be overly concerning.
Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Net interest cover of 10.32 times its interest expense appears reasonable for AB Fagerhult, although we’re conscious that even high interest cover doesn’t make a company bulletproof.
Consider getting our latest analysis on AB Fagerhult’s financial position here.
Before buying a stock for its income, we want to see if the dividends have been stable in the past, and if the company has a track record of maintaining its dividend. For the purpose of this article, we only scrutinise the last decade of AB Fagerhult’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 ten-year period, the first annual payment was kr0.61 in 2010, compared to kr2.00 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 13% per year over this 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 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? Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it’s great to see AB Fagerhult has grown its earnings per share at 19% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing rapidly, but given that it is paying out more than half of its earnings as dividends, we wonder how AB Fagerhult will keep funding its growth projects in the future.
We’d also point out that AB Fagerhult issued a meaningful number of new shares in the past year. Trying to grow the dividend when issuing new shares reminds us of the ancient Greek tale of Sisyphus – perpetually pushing a boulder uphill. Companies that consistently issue new shares are often suboptimal from a dividend perspective.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that AB Fagerhult’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 AB Fagerhult has an acceptable payout ratio and its dividend is well covered by cashflow. 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. AB Fagerhult 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.
Are management backing themselves to deliver performance? Check their shareholdings in AB Fagerhult in our latest insider ownership analysis.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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