Today we'll take a closer look at The RMR Group Inc. (NASDAQ:RMR) from a dividend investor's perspective. Owning a strong business and reinvesting the dividends is widely seen as an attractive way of growing your wealth. 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 goodly-sized dividend yield despite a relatively short payment history, investors might be wondering if RMR Group is a new dividend aristocrat in the making. It sure looks interesting on these metrics - but there's always more to the story. Remember though, due to the recent spike in its share price, RMR Group'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 RMR Group for its dividend, and we'll focus on the most important aspects below.
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. RMR Group paid out 86% of its profit as dividends, over the trailing twelve month period. Paying out a majority of its earnings limits the amount that can be reinvested in the business. This may indicate a commitment to paying a dividend, or a dearth of investment opportunities.
We also measure dividends paid against a company's levered free cash flow, to see if enough cash was generated to cover the dividend. RMR Group paid out a conservative 32% of its free cash flow as dividends last year. 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.
While the above analysis focuses on dividends relative to a company's earnings, we do note RMR Group's strong net cash position, which will let it pay larger dividends for a time, should it choose.
We update our data on RMR Group every 24 hours, so you can always get our latest analysis of its financial health, here.
From the perspective of an income investor who wants to earn dividends for many years, there is not much point buying a stock if its dividend is regularly cut or is not reliable. Looking at the data, we can see that RMR Group has been paying a dividend for the past five years. During the past five-year period, the first annual payment was US$1.0 in 2015, compared to US$1.5 last year. Dividends per share have grown at approximately 8.7% per year over this time.
RMR Group has been growing its dividend at a decent rate, and the payments have been stable despite the short payment history. This is a positive start.
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. It's good to see RMR Group has been growing its earnings per share at 31% a year over the past five years. A majority of profits are being paid out as dividends, which raises the question of what happens to the current dividend if earnings decline. However, the rapid growth in earnings may indicate that is less of a risk.
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. RMR Group's payout ratios are within a normal range for the average corporation, and we like that its cashflow was stronger than reported profits. Next, earnings growth has been good, but unfortunately the company has not been paying dividends as long as we'd like. RMR Group 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.
It's important to note that companies having a consistent dividend policy will generate greater investor confidence than those having an erratic one. Still, investors need to consider a host of other factors, apart from dividend payments, when analysing a company. For instance, we've picked out 3 warning signs for RMR Group that investors should take into consideration.
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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