Here’s How We Evaluate Simon Property Group, Inc.’s (NYSE:SPG) Dividend

Is Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG) a good dividend stock? How would you know? A dividend paying company with growing earnings can be rewarding in the long term. If you are hoping to live on the income from dividends, it’s important to be a lot more stringent with your investments than the average punter.

With Simon Property Group yielding 4.6% and having paid a dividend for over 10 years, many investors likely find the company quite interesting. It would not be a surprise to discover that many investors buy it for the dividends. It also bought back stock during the year, equivalent to approximately 0.5% of the company’s market capitalisation at the time. When buying stocks for their dividends, you should always run through the checks below, to see if the dividend looks sustainable.

Explore this interactive chart for our latest analysis on Simon Property Group!
NYSE:SPG Historical Dividend Yield, April 17th 2019
NYSE:SPG Historical Dividend Yield, April 17th 2019

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. 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, Simon Property Group paid out 57% 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. Simon Property Group paid out 82% of its cash flow last year. This may be sustainable but it does not leave much of a buffer for unexpected circumstances.

Simon Property Group is a REIT, which is an investment structure that often has different payout rules compared to other companies. It is not uncommon for REITs to pay out 100% of their earnings each year.

Is Simon Property Group’s Balance Sheet Risky?

As Simon Property Group has a meaningful amount of debt, we need to check its balance sheet to see if the company might have debt risks.

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 is a measure of a company’s total debt. Net interest cover measures the ability to meet interest payments on debt. Essentially we check that a) a company does not have too much debt, and b) that it can afford to pay the interest. Simon Property Group has net debt of 5.42 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) which implies meaningful risk if interest rates rise of earnings decline.

We calculated its interest cover by measuring its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), and dividing this by the company’s net interest expense. Interest cover of less than 5x its interest expense is starting to become a concern for Simon Property Group, and be aware that lenders may place additional restrictions on the company as well. High debt and weak interest cover are not a great combo, and we would be cautious of relying on this company’s dividend while these metrics persist.

Remember, you can always get a snapshot of Simon Property Group’s latest financial position, by checking our visualisation of its financial health.

Dividend Volatility

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. Simon Property Group 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$3.60 in 2009, compared to US$8.20 last year. This works out to be a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 8.6% a year over that time.

Dividend Growth Potential

While dividend payments have been relatively stable, 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 Simon Property Group has been growing its earnings per share at 17% a year over the past 5 years. Simon Property Group’s earnings per share have grown rapidly in recent years, although more than half of its profits are being paid out as dividends, which makes us wonder if the company has a limited number of reinvestment opportunities in its business.

Conclusion

Dividend investors should always want to know if a) a company’s dividends are affordable, b) if there is a track record of consistent payments, and c) if the dividend is capable of growing. First, we think Simon Property Group is paying out an acceptable percentage of its cashflow and profit. We like that it has been delivering solid earnings growth and relatively consistent dividend payments. Overall we think Simon Property Group is an interesting dividend stock, although it could be better.

Earnings growth generally bodes well for the future value of company dividend payments. See if the 7 Simon Property Group analysts we track are forecasting continued growth with our free report on analyst estimates 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%.

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.