Dividend paying stocks like BGC Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ:BGCP) 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. Yet sometimes, investors buy a stock for its dividend and lose money because the share price falls by more than they earned in dividend payments.
A 0.9% yield is nothing to get excited about, but investors probably think the long payment history suggests BGC Partners has some staying power. Remember though, due to the recent spike in its share price, BGC Partners's yield will look lower, even though the market may now be factoring in an improvement in its long-term prospects. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding BGC Partners for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects 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. Comparing dividend payments to a company's net profit after tax is a simple way of reality-checking whether a dividend is sustainable. BGC Partners paid out 236% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. 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.
Remember, you can always get a snapshot of BGC Partners' latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.
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. BGC Partners has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. Its dividend payments have declined on at least one occasion over the past 10 years. During the past 10-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.3 in 2010, compared to US$0.04 last year. The dividend has fallen 88% over that period.
A shrinking dividend over a 10-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. BGC Partners' EPS have fallen by approximately 28% per year during 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.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that BGC Partners' dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We're a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and its dividend has been cut at least once in the past. With any dividend stock, we look for a sustainable payout ratio, steady dividends, and growing earnings. BGC Partners has a few too many issues for us to get interested.
Market movements attest to how highly valued a consistent dividend policy is compared to one which is more unpredictable. However, there are other things to consider for investors when analysing stock performance. To that end, BGC Partners has 4 warning signs (and 1 which makes us a bit uncomfortable) 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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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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