Does Tronox Holdings plc (NYSE:TROX) Have A Place In Your Dividend Portfolio?

Is Tronox Holdings plc (NYSE:TROX) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with growing earnings can be highly rewarding in the long term. On the other hand, investors have been known to buy a stock because of its yield, and then lose money if the company’s dividend doesn’t live up to expectations.

Investors might not know much about Tronox Holdings’s dividend prospects, even though it has been paying dividends for the last eight years and offers a 2.1% yield. While the yield may not look too great, the relatively long payment history is interesting. The company also returned around 24% of its market capitalisation to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks over the past year. Some simple research can reduce the risk of buying Tronox Holdings for its dividend – read on to learn more.

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NYSE:TROX Historical Dividend Yield, February 7th 2020
NYSE:TROX Historical Dividend Yield, February 7th 2020

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. As a result, we should always investigate whether a company can afford its dividend, measured as a percentage of a company’s net income after tax. While Tronox Holdings pays a dividend, it reported a loss over the last year. When a company recently reported a loss, we should investigate if its cash flows covered the dividend.

Tronox Holdings paid out 23% of its free cash flow as dividends last year, which is conservative and suggests the dividend is sustainable.

Is Tronox Holdings’s Balance Sheet Risky?

Given Tronox Holdings is paying a dividend but reported a loss over the past year, we need to check its balance sheet for signs of financial distress. A rough way to check this is with these two simple ratios: a) net debt divided by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), and b) net interest cover. Net debt to EBITDA measures total debt load relative to company earnings (lower = less debt), while net interest cover measures the ability to pay interest on the debt (higher = greater ability to pay interest costs). Tronox Holdings has net debt of 5.45 times its EBITDA, which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

Net interest cover can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by the company’s net interest expense. Interest cover of 1.51 times its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Tronox Holdings, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well. Low interest cover and high debt can create problems right when the investor least needs them, and we’re reluctant to rely on the dividend of companies with these traits.

Consider getting our latest analysis on Tronox Holdings’s financial position 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. The first recorded dividend for Tronox Holdings, in the last decade, was eight years ago. Although it has been paying a dividend for several years now, the dividend has been cut at least once, and we’re cautious about the consistency of its dividend across a full economic cycle. During the past eight-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.00 in 2012, compared to US$0.18 last year. The dividend has fallen 82% over that period.

When a company’s per-share dividend falls we question if this reflects poorly on either external business conditions, or the company’s capital allocation decisions. Either way, we find it hard to get excited about a company with a declining dividend.

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. It’s good to see Tronox Holdings has been growing its earnings per share at 47% a year over the past five years.

Conclusion

To summarise, shareholders should always check that Tronox Holdings’s dividends are affordable, that its dividend payments are relatively stable, and that it has decent prospects for growing its earnings and dividend. We’re not keen on the fact that Tronox Holdings paid dividends despite reporting a loss over the past year, although fortunately its dividend was covered by cash flow. We were also glad to see it growing earnings, but it was concerning to see the dividend has been cut at least once in the past. Ultimately, Tronox Holdings comes up short on our dividend analysis. It’s not that we think it is a bad company – just that there are likely more appealing dividend prospects out there on this analysis.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 6 Tronox Holdings analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates for the company.

We have also put together a list of global stocks with a market capitalisation above $1bn and yielding more 3%.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.