Today we'll take a closer look at Excelsior Biopharma Inc. (GTSM:6496) 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.
With a goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if Excelsior Biopharma is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.
Companies (usually) pay dividends out of their earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, the dividend might have to be cut. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. In the last year, Excelsior Biopharma paid out 132% of its profit as dividends. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, from the perspective of an investor who hopes to own the company for many years, a payout ratio of above 100% is definitely a concern.
Another important check we do is to see if the free cash flow generated is sufficient to pay the dividend. Excelsior Biopharma's cash payout ratio last year was 9.2%, which is quite low and suggests that the dividend was thoroughly covered by cash flow. It's good to see that while Excelsior Biopharma's dividends were not covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a cash perspective. Still, if the company repeatedly paid a dividend greater than its profits, we'd be concerned. Extraordinarily few companies are capable of persistently paying a dividend that is greater than their profits.
With a strong net cash balance, Excelsior Biopharma investors may not have much to worry about in the near term from a dividend perspective.
We update our data on Excelsior Biopharma every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
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. Excelsior Biopharma 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 NT$2.5 in 2015, compared to NT$1.0 last year. This works out to a decline of approximately 60% over that time.
A shrinking dividend over a six-year period is not ideal, and we'd be concerned about investing in a dividend stock that lacks a solid record of growing dividends per share.
Dividend Growth Potential
With a relatively unstable dividend, and a poor history of shrinking dividends, it's even more important to see if EPS are growing. Excelsior Biopharma'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.
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 not keen on the fact that Excelsior Biopharma paid out such a high percentage of its income, although its cashflow is in better shape. Earnings per share are down, and Excelsior Biopharma's dividend has been cut at least once in the past, which is disappointing. With this information in mind, we think Excelsior Biopharma may not be an ideal dividend stock.
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. Just as an example, we've come accross 4 warning signs for Excelsior Biopharma you should be aware of, and 1 of them doesn't sit too well with us.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding 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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