Is Innospec Inc. (NASDAQ:IOSP) A Smart Pick For Income Investors?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 17, 2021
NasdaqGS:IOSP

Is Innospec Inc. (NASDAQ:IOSP) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. 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.

With a 1.1% yield and a seven-year payment history, investors probably think Innospec looks like a reliable dividend stock. A low yield is generally a turn-off, but if the prospects for earnings growth were strong, investors might be pleasantly surprised by the long-term results. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Click the interactive chart for our full dividend analysis

historic-dividend
NasdaqGS:IOSP Historic Dividend February 17th 2021

Payout ratios

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. So we need to form a view on if a company's dividend is sustainable, relative to its net profit after tax. In the last year, Innospec paid out 69% of its profit as dividends. A payout ratio above 50% generally implies a business is reaching maturity, although it is still possible to reinvest in the business or increase the dividend over time.

In addition to comparing dividends against profits, we should inspect whether the company generated enough cash to pay its dividend. Innospec paid out 22% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservative and suggests the dividend is sustainable. It's positive to see that Innospec's dividend is covered by both profits and cash flow, since this is generally a sign that the dividend is sustainable, and a lower payout ratio usually suggests a greater margin of safety before the dividend gets cut.

While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note Innospec's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.

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

Dividend Volatility

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. Looking at the data, we can see that Innospec has been paying a dividend for the past seven years. The dividend has been quite stable over the past seven years, which is great to see - although we usually like to see the dividend maintained for a decade before giving it full marks, though. During the past seven-year period, the first annual payment was US$0.5 in 2014, compared to US$1.0 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 11% per year over this time.

Innospec has been growing its dividend quite rapidly, which is exciting. However, the short payment history makes us question whether this performance will persist across a full market cycle.

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. Innospec's EPS have fallen by approximately 21% per year during the past five years. With this kind of significant decline, we always wonder what has changed in the business. Dividends are about stability, and Innospec's earnings per share, which support the dividend, have been anything but stable.

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. Innospec's payout ratios are within a normal range for the average corporation, and we like that its cashflow was stronger than reported profits. Second, earnings per share have been in decline, and the dividend history is shorter than we'd like. In sum, we find it hard to get excited about Innospec from a dividend perspective. It's not that we think it's a bad business; just that there are other companies that perform better on these criteria.

Investors generally tend to favour companies with a consistent, stable dividend policy as opposed to those operating an irregular one. Meanwhile, despite the importance of dividend payments, they are not the only factors our readers should know when assessing a company. For instance, we've picked out 2 warning signs for Innospec that investors should take into consideration.

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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