Could World Fuel Services Corporation (NYSE:INT) 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. 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 slim 0.9% yield is hard to get excited about, but the long payment history is respectable. At the right price, or with strong growth opportunities, World Fuel Services could have potential. The company also bought back stock equivalent to around 2.3% of market capitalisation this year. Some simple analysis can reduce the risk of holding World Fuel Services for its dividend, and we’ll focus on the most important aspects below.
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. 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, World Fuel Services paid out 14% of its profit as dividends. Given the low payout ratio, it is hard to envision the dividend coming under threat, barring a catastrophe.
We also measure dividends paid against a company’s levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. World Fuel Services’s cash payout ratio last year was 8.7%. Cash flows are typically lumpy, but this looks like an appropriately conservative payout. It’s encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don’t drop precipitously.
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. World Fuel Services has been paying dividends for a long time, but for the purpose of this analysis, we only examine the past 10 years of payments. During this period the dividend has been stable, which could imply the business could have relatively consistent earnings power. During the past ten-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.075 in 2009, compared to US$0.40 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 18% a year over that time.
Dividends have been growing pretty quickly, and even more impressively, they haven’t experienced any notable falls during this period.
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. In the last five years, World Fuel Services’s earnings per share have shrunk at approximately 4.4% per annum. Declining earnings per share over a number of years is not a great sign for the dividend investor. Without some improvement, this does not bode well for the long term value of a company’s dividend.
To summarise, shareholders should always check that World Fuel Services’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 great to see that World Fuel Services is paying out a low percentage of its earnings and cash flow. It’s not great to see earnings per share shrinking. The dividends have been relatively consistent, but we wonder for how much longer this will be true. World Fuel Services has a number of positive attributes, but it falls slightly short of our (admittedly high) standards. Were there evidence of a strong moat or an attractive valuation, it could still be well worth a look.
Given that earnings are not growing, the dividend does not look nearly so attractive. Businesses can change though, and we think it would make sense to see what analysts are forecasting for the company.
If you are a dividend investor, you might also want to look at our curated list of dividend stocks yielding above 3%.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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