Stock Analysis

Is Waterstone Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ:WSBF) A Smart Choice For Dividend Investors?

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NasdaqGS:WSBF
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Dividend paying stocks like Waterstone Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ:WSBF) tend to be popular with investors, and for good reason - some research suggests a significant amount of all stock market returns come from reinvested dividends. 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 Waterstone Financial is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. We'd agree the yield does look enticing. During the year, the company also conducted a buyback equivalent to around 7.0% of its market capitalisation. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding Waterstone Financial for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.

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historic-dividend
NasdaqGS:WSBF Historic Dividend December 2nd 2020

Payout ratios

Dividends are usually paid out of company earnings. If a company is paying more than it earns, 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. Waterstone Financial paid out 19% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.

We update our data on Waterstone Financial every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.

Dividend Volatility

One of the major risks of relying on dividend income, is the potential for a company to struggle financially and cut its dividend. Not only is your income cut, but the value of your investment declines as well - nasty. Looking at the data, we can see that Waterstone Financial has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. Its dividend has not fluctuated much that time, which we like, but we're conscious that the company might not yet have a track record of maintaining dividends in all economic conditions. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.2 in 2013, compared to US$1.3 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 30% a year over that time.

We're not overly excited about the relatively short history of dividend payments, however the dividend is growing at a nice rate and we might take a closer look.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively reliable, it would also be nice if earnings per share (EPS) were growing, as this is essential to maintaining the dividend's purchasing power over the long term. It's good to see Waterstone Financial has been growing its earnings per share at 46% a year over the past five years. Earnings per share have grown rapidly, and the company is retaining a majority of its earnings. We think this is ideal from an investment perspective, if the company is able to reinvest these earnings effectively.

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. Firstly, we like that Waterstone Financial has a low and conservative payout ratio. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. Waterstone Financial has a number of positive attributes, but falls short of our ideal dividend company. It may be worth a look at the right price, though.

It's important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. To that end, Waterstone Financial has 2 warning signs (and 1 which can't be ignored) we think you should know about.

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

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