Today we'll take a closer look at Sonix Technology Co.,Ltd. (TPE:5471) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a popular dividend stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company's dividend doesn't live up to expectations.
In this case, Sonix TechnologyLtd likely looks attractive to investors, given its 5.3% 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. Remember though, due to the recent spike in its share price, Sonix TechnologyLtd's yield will look lower, even though the market may now be factoring in an improvement in its long-term prospects. 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. 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. Sonix TechnologyLtd paid out 93% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. With a payout ratio this high, we'd say its dividend is not well covered by earnings. This may be fine if earnings are growing, but it might not take much of a downturn for the dividend to come under pressure.
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, Sonix TechnologyLtd paid out 33% as dividends, suggesting the dividend is affordable. It's good to see that while Sonix TechnologyLtd's dividends were not well covered by profits, at least they are affordable from a free cash flow perspective. Still, if the company continues paying out such a high percentage of its profits, the dividend could be at risk if business turns sour.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Sonix TechnologyLtd's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
We update our data on Sonix TechnologyLtd 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. Sonix TechnologyLtd 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 been cut one or more times over this time. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was NT$4.0 in 2011, compared to NT$5.7 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 3.6% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 3.6% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.
Modest growth in the dividend is good to see, but we think this is offset by historical cuts to the payments. It is hard to live on a dividend income if the company's earnings are not consistent.
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. Strong earnings per share (EPS) growth might encourage our interest in the company despite fluctuating dividends, which is why it's great to see Sonix TechnologyLtd has grown its earnings per share at 21% per annum over the past five years. Earnings per share have been growing very rapidly, although the company is also paying out virtually all of its profit in dividends. Generally, a company that is growing rapidly while paying out a majority of its earnings, is seeing its debt burden increase. We'd be conscious of any extra risk added by this practice.
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. We're not keen on the fact that Sonix TechnologyLtd paid out such a high percentage of its income, although its cashflow is in better shape. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Sonix TechnologyLtd from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 2 warning signs for Sonix TechnologyLtd 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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