Investors In AXIS Capital Holdings Limited (NYSE:AXS) Should Consider This, First

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Dividend paying stocks like AXIS Capital Holdings Limited (NYSE:AXS) 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.

While AXIS Capital Holdings’s 2.6% dividend yield is not the highest, we think its lengthy payment history is quite interesting. There are a few simple ways to reduce the risks of buying AXIS Capital Holdings for its dividend, and we’ll go through these below.

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NYSE:AXS Historical Dividend Yield, June 21st 2019
NYSE:AXS Historical Dividend Yield, June 21st 2019

Payout ratios

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. Looking at the data, we can see that 367% of AXIS Capital Holdings’s profits were paid out as dividends in the last 12 months. A payout ratio above 100% is definitely an item of concern, unless there are some other circumstances that would justify it.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of AXIS Capital Holdings’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

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. AXIS Capital Holdings 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$0.80 in 2009, compared to US$1.60 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7.2% a year over that time.

Dividends have grown at a reasonable rate over this period, and without any major cuts in the payment over time, we think this is an attractive combination.

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. Over the past five years, it looks as though AXIS Capital Holdings’s EPS have declined at around 41% a year. 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.

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. We’re a bit uncomfortable with its high payout ratio. Second, earnings per share have actually shrunk, but at least the dividends have been relatively stable. To conclude, we’ve spotted a couple of potential concerns with AXIS Capital Holdings that may make it less than ideal candidate for dividend investors.

Without at least some growth in earnings per share over time, the dividend will eventually come under pressure either from costs or inflation. See if the 7 analysts are forecasting a turnaround in our free collection of analyst estimates here.

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

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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. Thank you for reading.