Could Mitake Information Corporation (GTSM:8284) 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. 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.
In this case, Mitake Information likely looks attractive to dividend investors, given its 6.2% dividend yield and eight-year payment history. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story. Before you buy any stock for its dividend however, you should always remember Warren Buffett's two rules: 1) Don't lose money, and 2) Remember rule #1. We'll run through some checks below to help with this.
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. Mitake Information paid out 100% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Its payout ratio is quite high, and the dividend is not well covered by earnings. If earnings are growing or the company has a large cash balance, this might be sustainable - still, we think it is a concern.
In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. With a cash payout ratio of 1,620%, Mitake Information's dividend payments are poorly covered by cash flow. Paying out such a high percentage of cash flow suggests that the dividend was funded from either cash at bank or by borrowing, neither of which is desirable over the long term. As Mitake Information's dividend was not well covered by either earnings or cash flow, we would be concerned that this dividend could be at risk over the long term.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Mitake Information's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
Consider getting our latest analysis on Mitake Information's financial position 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. Looking at the last decade of data, we can see that Mitake Information paid its first dividend at least eight years ago. It's good to see that Mitake Information has been paying a dividend for a number of years. However, the dividend has been cut at least once in the past, and we're concerned that what has been cut once, could be cut again. During the past eight-year period, the first annual payment was NT$1.5 in 2012, compared to NT$3.0 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 8.8% per year over this time. The dividends haven't grown at precisely 8.8% every year, but this is a useful way to average out the historical rate of growth.
A reasonable rate of dividend growth is good to see, but we're wary that the dividend history is not as solid as we'd like, having been cut at least once.
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? Earnings have grown at around 5.5% a year for the past five years, which is better than seeing them shrink! Although per-share earnings are growing at a credible rate, virtually all of the income is being paid out as dividends to shareholders. This is okay, but may limit growth in the company's future dividend payments.
We'd also point out that Mitake Information 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 Mitake Information's dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. It's a concern to see that the company paid out such a high percentage of its earnings and cashflow as dividends. Second, earnings growth has been ordinary, and its history of dividend payments is chequered - having cut its dividend at least once in the past. In this analysis, Mitake Information doesn't shape up too well as a dividend stock. We'd find it hard to look past the flaws, and would not be inclined to think of it as a reliable dividend-payer.
Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. Taking the debate a bit further, we've identified 4 warning signs for Mitake Information that investors need to be conscious of moving forward.
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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